MIRI: The state government should implement and strictly enforce ground rules pertaining to the proper management of archaeological sites.
Thailand-based senior specialist in archaeology Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan said that with these imposed regulations and repercussions, the development of the archaeo-tourism sector could be carried out more effectively and responsibly.
He opined, “I know it is not easy in the tourism industry to set such rules to the extent of jailing a wrong-doer. However, perhaps it must be done once so that no one else will repeat the mistake in the future.”
“In Southeast Asia, we tend to be very forgiving when it comes to tourists — they usually just get a slap on the wrist and that’s all,” he commented.
When met at the sidelines of the International Conference on Archaeology (ICA) at Pullman Miri Waterfront here, yesterday, he gave the example of Myanmar has followed through with their rules and repercussions towards misconduct at their temples.
“There was a case of this tourist at Bagan (in Myanmar) who refused to take off her shoes when visiting the temples,” Dr Noel said, adding that this led to jailtime for the tourist who blatantly ignored the rules.
Proper enforcement could prevent misconduct at tourism sites, particularly those with great historic or religious significance.
His suggestion was made in reference to the state’s goal of promoting archaeo-tourism as a relatively new sector of the tourism realm.
Dr Noel added when it comes to community tourism, the community was more important than tourism.
“The community has to be invested in the idea that there are a lot of benefits to the local community with regard to tourism before one can begin to create some kind of tourism product,” he emphasised.