THE state is expecting a boom in tourism with the launch of the Kinta Valley Geopark.
State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi said it has been a proven track record worldwide that places with geoparks automatically have a higher number of tourists.
Nolee said the area covering about 2,000sq km in Ipoh, Batu Gajah and Kampar, features limestone hills, waterfalls and hot springs.
She said apart from recreational space, a geopark also includes the residents and heritage sites in the area.
“The geopark status will enhance the already existing tourism attractions at these locations, which will be rebranded to ensure a good tie-up.
“With the spillover effects, the socio-economy status of the locals will also be improved.
“The establishment of the geopark will also be a catalyst for the tourism industry not only in Perak, but also in Malaysia,” said Nolee who was representing Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir at the official launching of the geopark.
The other geopark in the country is situated in Langkawi.
The geopark in Perak, comprising 24 sites, is under the purview of the Minerals and Geosciences Department and will be gazetted as a National Geopark in two years’ time.
Nolee said the state government was currently submitting the dossier for the national qualification, but said it would probably take longer for Kinta Valley Geopark to be recognised as a Unesco Geopark.
In her speech, Nolee said Kinta Valley has long been recognised as the number one tin mining producer in the world.
“History has proven that Perak had some of the country’s earliest pre-historic settlements, with the discovery of the Perak Man’s skeletal remains, Lenggong Valley archaeological site and the pre-historic paintings at Tambun cave.
“Tourism activities based on nature, history and local cultures have been gaining popularity by tourists worldwide, and with a strong limestone history, the geopark has the potential to be developed into a new tourism product.
“There are lots to offer with the establishment of the geopark, ranging from the karst topography of Gua Tempurung and hot springs of Mata Air Panas Lubuk Timah to the water-based activities at Sungai Jeram,” she said.
Nolee added that the area must be packaged properly according to its needs to attract more tourists, while ensuring the geopark is conserved and preserved at all times.