LANGKAWI – Langkawi with its rich geological heritage should be promoted as a destination for knowledge tourism, a branch of tourism where visitors come to enhance their knowledge about the place.
Moreover, with the Global Geopark status accorded by the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) more than seven years ago, Langkawi sits at par with other world heritage sites including the Grand Canyon in the United States.
“I was informed that in the Grand Canyon the average visitors there are those who had visited the place more than 15 times, going there one or two years,” said Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s (UMT) Vice-Chancellor Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Ibrahim Komoo.
Therefore, Langkawi should provide more facilities and tourism products for such tourists including high quality souvenirs as they are willing to spend more to get more knowledge.
“The people in Langkawi should find this as another avenue to explore and to be involved in so that they could benefit from the Langkawi Global Geopark recognition,” said Prof Ibrahim who is also an UNESCO Global Geopark Network (GGN) international expert when giving a talk on Langkawi Global Geopark here recently.
LANGKAWI A MECCA FOR GEOLOGISTS AND NATURE LOVERS
Langkawi Geopark is no ordinary park, said Prof Ibrahim pointing to the fact Mount Machinchang in Langkawi is the oldest rock formation in the country and estimated to be 550 million years old.
“This is where the Malaysian mainland was first born. Before any other place in this country, Mount Machinchang emerged first out of the sea.
“Besides Mount Machinchang being the oldest in Malaysia, Kilim Karst is seen as among the most beautiful limestone rock formation, while Pulau Tasik Dayang Bunting was acclaimed as one of the most extraordinary island landscape,” he said adding that the Mount Machinchang, Kilim Karst and the Tasik Dayang Bunting too were recognised as heritage under the Geopark status.
So far at least 90 geo-heritage sites in Langkawi have been identified as natural heritage that have to be preserved.
THE ROLE OF THE LOCALS
Meanwhile Prof Ibrahim said locals in Langkawi need to equip themselves with sufficient knowledge on these interesting geological facts about the island, so that they could share them with the visitors who come in.
Under the Langkawi Global Geopark concept those in the island are considered Geoparkians, a term that refers to all the stakeholders ith interests in the island geo-heritage.
For Prof Ibrahim, the stakeholders here not only include the local communities or government agencies but also the visitors themselves who could facilitate in promoting the spirit of Geopark.
This is also where the local myths and legends related to the natural landscape could be used to promote and preserve the Geopark.
“For example, the Langkawi folklore of the fight between two giants – Mat Chinchang and Mat Raya – that ended up with both turning into mountains at the end provides an interesting narrative of the geological formations on the island,” he said.
In a nutshell, Geopark is presented in a holistic concept that involved the recognition of a geological heritage site for the purpose of conservation, public education and sustainable development. – BERNAMA