The gambling-ridden clan jetties of Malaysia’s George Town were saved from ruin by the award of Unesco world heritage status, but their new fame left locals overwhelmed by a tide of invasive tourism. Can we ever get the balance right?
Chew Jetty in Malaysia’s George Town attracts tourists by the boatload. Historic homes are now commercial stalls branded with neon signs; one-time fishermen peddle T-shirts, magnets and postcards. Tour buses deposit vacationers from early in the morning until well after sunset.
The daily intrusion has clearly taken a toll: windows are boarded, “no photo” signs are pervasive, and tenants quickly vanish at the sight of a foreign face.
“I would like to remind people that we are not monkeys, and this is not a zoo,” says Lee Kah Lei, who runs a souvenir stall outside her home on the Chew Jetty.
By Laignee Barron for The Guardian.