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George Town declares itself swiftlet farm-free

A total of 128 swiftlet breeding operations in George Town, which could have been detrimental to old buildings within the heritage zone, were removed ahead of an upcoming Unesco review. Old buildings in areas such as Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Muntri and Lebuh Victoria were used to breed swiftlets for the lucrative bird’s nest business.

According to Chow Kon Yeow, Penang’s state executive councillor for Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation, the MPPP began shutting down all swiftlet breeding operations within the zone between January 2011 and December 2013.

While some operators cooperated, others did not. "There were premises we had to enter by force to take action on the operators. We cannot take the risk and lose the heritage status of George Town," Chow said.

The enforcement was also in line with the federal government’s Swiftlets Industry Guidelines, introduced in September 2010. Under the guidelines, swiftlet nests should be located at least 50m from “fully residential buildings”. Those located inside heritage buildings should be subject to conditions drawn up by relevant authorities.

Penang to go ahead with hotel room levy

The Penang state government will impose a hotel room levy of between RM2 and RM3 per night. The levy, which will be implemented from June 1, will be channelled towards improving the state’s tourism facilities.

“The levy collected will go into a fund to improve infrastructure, promote more tourism and cultural activities in the state, and further strengthen Penang as a preferred international tourist destination,” said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said this in response to Penang making The Guardian’s top destinations list, remarking that the Penang government is proud to be back on the tourist map, although there is still room for improvement to make Penang on par with other famous tourist destinations such as Bali.

Fun for charity with Charis Hospice

On March 15, Charis Hospice, which provides free palliative homecare services for patients with cancer and other critical illnesses on the island irrespective of race and religion, will be holding a fundraising event. Titled “Hunt for Charity 2014 – Discover Iconic Penang”, Charis Hospice aims to raise RM70,000 to support its mission.

The event will consist of two hunts, namely the Motor Hunt and the Shopping Mall Hunt. Participants will hunt around for clues and discover Penang’s icons in exciting ways. The Motor Hunt will be held all over the island, while the Shopping Mall Hunt will be held at 1st Avenue shopping mall. Registration fees are RM400 per team (with a maximum of four participants) for the Motor Hunt event and RM160 per team (with a maximum of two participants) for the Shopping Mall Hunt. The event is open for registration until February 28. For more details, visit www.charishospice.com.

George Town listed in Guardian's top holiday spots

The abundance of activities that have popped up over the past few years, such as the month-long George Town Festival, might be one of the reasons George Town was named the eighth holiday hotspot out of 40 by The Guardian, Britain’s national daily newspaper.

In addition to its festivals, The Guardian also mentioned George Town’s food, buildings and 2008 Unesco listing as the main draws, calling Penang “one of South-East Asia’s hottest destinations.” It is the only South-East Asian city to be on the list. Other destinations include Cape Town in South Africa, Iran and Mongolia.



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