Ecotourism, wildlife conservation to be Malaysia’s main thrust, says incoming tourism minister


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Malaysia’s new tourism minister, Azlina Othman, is wasting no time to spell out her new vision for Malaysia’s tourism industry. To her, the future is in ecotourism.

Through extensive promotion of Malaysia as an ecotourism destination, the country will not only spend less on promotional campaigns, but earn more from tourism receipts, said Azalina on assuming her new post. “This is going to be my main priority,” she said. “Malaysia is blessed with a wonderful natural environment which the industry can thrive on.”

Meanwhile, in Borneo Malaysia, a tripartite agreement will be signed on April 14 between the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) and two state entities to fund the buyback or lease of land from present owners to conserve habitat for wildlife.

Under the agreement, parcels of land along the Kinabatangan and Segama rivers in eastern Sabah will be rehabilitated so that wildlife including the endangered pygmy Borneo elephants and orangutans can roam about freely.

Fragmented forests and wildlife reserves along the two rivers will be connected so that a natural migratory path will be reestablished for the endangered species.

The Borneo Wildlife Center, the Sabah Wildlife Department and French primatologist Dr. Marc Ancrenaz are also presently discussing the setting up of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a rehabilitation center for rescued animals.

“We want to promote an understanding that communities are crucial in changing attitudes towards wildlife and their habitat,” said Richard Lind, BCT chairman.

“We welcome all donations which will go towards our conservation efforts,” added Lind, who said in addition to donations from Japanese individuals and companies, also disclosed the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has donated over US$126,000 to conduct an exercise on the number of orangutans in the area.