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18 February, 2010

Focus on eco-tourism

By NG SI HOOI

KUALA LUMPUR: Mature, urban and seasoned tourists — these are the groups that the Tourism Ministry is trying to woo to boost the national eco-tourism industry.

Explaining that eco-tourism was not just about jungle trekking, river rapids or scuba diving, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said it was all about preserving the environment.

“Eco-tourism helps to protect nature and spur economic activities for local folk.

“In the process, we also help to conserve our environment,” she said in a recent interview.  

High- up: A hanging bridge located at Kelantan’s Gunung Stong hill resort is the gateway to Stong waterfalls. The area can be promoted for eco-tourism in Malaysia. 
 
The main destinations for eco-tourism include the Mulu Caves in Sarawak, Belum in Perak, Gunung Stong in Kelantan and Gua Kelam in Perlis.

Mulu Caves has the world’s largest cave chamber and the world’s most extensive cave system while Belum is famous for its rich bio-diversity hosting more than 100 species of mammals.

Gunung Stong is home to one of the tallest waterfalls in Malaysia, the seven-tier Jelawang Falls.

“Gua Kelam, or the Cave of Darkness, is one of the destinations we are promoting to tourists,” said Dr Ng, who described eco-tourism as a high yield product with enormous potential for innovation and creativity.

She said tourism must conserve, not harm, nature.

“We must also minimise unnecessary construction,” she stressed.

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, Dr Ng said her ministry would make allocations for construction works without damaging nature. “For in-stance, jungle treks and toilets built must blend with nature,’’ she added. She appealed to the people, on a personal note to keep the country clean and be courteous to visitors.

“We must think and act tourism. They help build our economy.

“We must all play our parts to make Malaysia the preferred destination,” she said.

 

 

  
 
 
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