KUCHING: Sarawak is optimistic that Niah National Park will be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site next year, says Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
The state Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister said there were two more stages to go through, one in November and another early next year.
This comes after a team from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), an advisory body to Unesco, visited Niah for an evaluation mission from Sept 29 to Oct 4.
"I have to keep my fingers crossed. Those from Icomos who came to do the inspection were satisfied with what they had seen.
"So I believe we should be getting (the listing)," Abdul Karim told reporters on Tuesday (Oct 17).
It was previously reported that Sarawak was nominating the archaeological heritage of Niah's cave complex as a World Heritage Site in the mixed category for natural and cultural heritage.
A final dossier was submitted to Unesco in January this year.
If successful, Niah will be Sarawak's second Unesco World Heritage Site after the Gunung Mulu National Park in 2000.
Abdul Karim said Sarawak was passionate about conserving and preserving its heritage sites.
"What we are trying to do is not just about tourism. We know that opening up these heritage sites purely to bring in as many people as possible to visit is not what Unesco would like to see.
"Whatever we do concerning promotion and infrastructure will have to follow requirements set by Unesco," he said.
He added that Sarawak was also in the process of gazetting heritage sites and buildings within the state.
"We are moving along these lines. We want to see all these sites well preserved for our future generation," he said.