Planning to make Kuching Old Bazaar attract more visitors

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KUCHING: With more plans in place to rejuvenate Kuching Old Bazaar, the Tourism, Arts, and Culture Ministry hopes that it would attract more visitors to the area.

The Kuching Old Market Community Association (Komca), supported by the ministry, have managed to come up with the cultural mapping project, historical book telling life stories of the local people, four tourism brochures, five promotional videos, 40 information plaques with their own QR code, Kuching Old Bazaar website and social media platforms, as well as the Street Arts presentation.

Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that what makes the project meaningful is that it is headed by the association which was formed in 1996, with its members telling the story of Old Kuching Bazaar to the world.

“My ministry has given its unwavering support to Komca when they presented this project to me almost two years ago. We saw the importance and potential of the project to preserve the history, traditions and culture of the old Kuching,” he said during the launching of the Kuching Old Bazaar at 54C, Carpenter Street today (Mar 16).  

On the Kuching Old Bazaar historical book, he said it could possibly be the first book dedicated to the life stories of common people in Kuching.

“With these project deliverables, I believe everyone is looking forward to this. I am also very happy to see the project has created a new image and brand for Kuching and I hope that one day Kuching Old Bazaar would be able to rival Singapore’s Chinatown, Penang’s Georgetown and Malacca’s Jonker Walk.

“I am extremely heartened by the dedication demonstrated by the Kuching Old Bazaar Cultural Mapping and Tourism Promotion team,” he said.

He said despite all the challenges due to Covid-19 pandemic, the team is still able to complete their mission within the timeframe.

“Therefore, I am confident that when tourists return once the pandemic is dealt with, Kuching Old Bazaar will have a much different but exciting story to tell,” he said.

Abdul Karim said the ministry will also continue to add more events in the coming years to attract tourists.

“Apart from the Intercultural Mooncake Festival which takes place here annually, we can highlight the three spectacular Goddess Parades from the temples from the two temples of this area, namely Hiang Thian Siang Ti Temple and Hong San Si Temple, as well as creating more heritage tourism events such as Heritage Treasure Hunts and ‘Old Bazaar On Sales’.

“These can be held leading to big events in Kuching such as Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), What About Kuching, Kuching Marathon, Sarawak International Dragon Boat Race and Regatta,” he said.

On another note, he hoped the Kuching Old Bazaar would also be expanded to Padungan, India Street and the old Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) area instead of just Carpenter Street.

“This is our heritage and we need to preserve it,” he said, adding that the shop owners and local community are urged to come together in preserving old buildings.

“We also would love to preserve the ‘tampang’ (boat service) along the Kuching Waterfront.

“So, we might need to have a specific institution to look after them, because they may not be making a lot of money and they won’t be able to survive on their own. That is why I feel the government has got to come in to help and maybe provide them with monthly financial assistance,” he said.

Also present during the launching were Tourism, Arts and Culture Assistant Minister Datuk Sebastian Ting; its permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee; Komca president Kapitan Lim Chuan Chan and Kuching City South Council mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng.

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