Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023
KUCHING: Sarawak will host the triennial general assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) in 2026, bringing in 2,000 cultural heritage experts to discuss development and conservation.
This will be the first time the prestigious event - dubbed the Olympic Games of the cultural calendar - will be held in Malaysia.
State Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the event is expected to bring social, cultural and economic benefits to Sarawak and Malaysia in line with the commitment to protect and manage cultural heritage.
"What we aim to learn from Icomos GA2026 is how to modernise while safeguarding our cultural and heritage assets and how to foster peace and respect in a complex world by celebrating and preserving our culture and heritage,” he said.
"Through this, we hope that Sarawak can become a leading destination for ecotourism and business events in the Asean region by empowering communities to balance development and sustainability," added Abdul Karim at a press conference here on Tuesday (Oct 17).
Abdul Karim said the event was estimated to generate a total economic impact of RM16.3mil, including direct delegate expenditure of RM8.9mil.
He said it would also create 1,300 job opportunities in Kuching.
"Cultural heritage experts and professionals from 130 countries will actively participate in meetings and scientific symposiums and visit significant cultural and natural heritage sites around Sarawak and Malaysia," he added.
Icomos Malaysia, Business Events Sarawak and the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau won the bid to host the event last year, with support from the Sarawak Museum Department.
Icomos Malaysia president Tiong Kian Boon said the event would highlight the importance of heritage as a tourism driver in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
"We foresee delegates becoming advocates for the amazing experiences that Sarawak and Malaysia's cultural heritage offers.
"Such an event of this magnitude will draw a high economic impact and wide-ranging benefits for future cultural tourism," he said.
By Sharon Ling