Two men share a quiet moment in one of the back lanes of George Town. The unseen heritage of the city is just as important as the tangible heritage.
When it comes to heritage conservation, strictly maintaining an old building’s infrastructure is not enough. One must ensure that the essence, or the unseen heritage, remains preserved.
On July 7, 2008 George Town was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Since then, things in the city have became busier, louder, artsier and, to the chagrin of some, more “Disney-fied”.
Evidently, the tourism industry was the first to benefit from all this. Curious tourists swarm George Town’s little alleys and lanes looking for Facebook-worthy photo moments, all the while braving the fierce island sun. Many enterprising locals have profited from this boost in tourism by selling services and Penang-related goods.
This commercialisation of heritage strikes some as almost vulgar. On one hand, people are pushing for development, while on the other there is a heightened awareness of local heritage and the instinct to safeguard it.
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