Many countries with older buildings submit their application for the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, often with a lot of strict criteria and conservation efforts. Once the heritage status is confirmed, what else can be done?
In many cases, a heritage site will be advertised and marketed as a tourist attraction. The government will allocate money to restore the buildings as closely as possible to the original blueprint structure, and create guidelines, laws and regulations pertaining to the management and handling of the properties within the heritage area.
For example, when Penang first received the heritage status for Georgetown, restoration works began for some of the older heritage buildings. These restoration works were done quite successfully, and attracted a lot of tourists. Simultaneously, the government had also sought the help of commercial entities to rent or buy these heritage buildings, help finance the restoration, and turning these buildings into commercial Penang properties. Along Beach Street, for example, the heritage building there had always been taken up by banks which had kept the buildings in their original condition especially the facade as much as possible.
Other than banks, there are also a lot of commercial real estate projects supported by the food and beverage industry. Modern restaurants are mushrooming around Georgetown, mostly restaurants with themes that center around culture and heritage. Many restaurant owners make an effort to incorporate some timeless traditions into their decorations and interior renovations, while maintaining the facade of the buildings which they occupy. A lot of fine dining restaurants had taken up the heritage buildings and build their own brands.
There are also a lot of heritage buildings which are restored, and maintained as special showcase museums, with photographs and furniture of the people who owned and lived there many years ago. Usually, there may be some token fee or entrance fee if you would like to visit these sites. There will be a team to manage the building and maintain the condition of the heritage site. Usually, there will also be a guide who will introduce and explain about the items in the building. They will tell about the history of the building, about the people who lived there… and these are usually people who had made a name in history for some kind of contribution to the nation.
Story continues in Heritage Buildings for Commercial Reasons in Penang: Part 2