PETALING JAYA: Cities in the country have been urged to apply to be recognised as age-friendly as this will help them attract tourists.
The adviser to the Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society, Nathan Vytialingam, said cities such as Kuching and those in Penang and Melaka should apply to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the title.
He said this following the selection of Taiping as an age-friendly town – the only one in Southeast Asia – by WHO.
“If you ask whether Kuala Lumpur can be one, certain parts of the city can be classified as age-friendly communities,” he said.
He urged the tourism ministry to be on the look-out for cities that meet the WHO guidelines.
“With the increasing ageing population worldwide, the people who have got money to travel are the baby boomers. If a city is known to be age-friendly, they’ll know that it would be easy for them to travel around.”
Nathan said the criteria set by WHO were not stringent or expensive to fulfil. City councils also would not need to consult foreign experts as there were enough local experts who could advise on age-friendly city-planning.
Some of the criteria include good public transportation, accessibility and a clean environment.
“Other classifications include whether or not there are enough benches for the elderly, and dustbins around the city for them to throw their rubbish as they’re walking,” he said.
Taiping Municipal Council (MPT) president Borhan Abdul Halim said the heritage town was chosen after the council had met the criteria set by WHO.
Borhan said more than RM1 million had been spent by MPT in the research process carried out over the past two years through grants from the United Nations Development Programme.