The port city of George Town in Penang was established in 1786 by the British East India Company. It flourished as an entrepot, and for a time as the capital and commercial centre of the Straits Settlements. More than 200 years later, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The city has become a prime tourism destination offering multiculturalism, heritage, and gastronomic experiences. In 2018, Penang received over 6.5 million tourists. The growth of George Town as a tourism destination has, however, resulted in the gentrification of the inner city. While hotels, restaurants, and bars have grown multiple-fold, local retail, traditional trades, and artisans have declined. The city has also experienced a decline in its resident population by over 30% between 2009 – 2019.
CD2@George Town is an initiative to bring life and jobs back into George Town’s historic urban core and to build a new innovation district focused on digital and creative industries that will complement existing industrial and economic hubs in the state and the northern region of Malaysia. The district will be a “city campus” for education institutions, companies, arts and cultural organisations, and talent, as well as a meeting place for the community and their ideas. It will be the hub for Penang’s digital economy, creative industries and start-ups, and a destination for lifestyle, culture and the arts, and learning.