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KUCHING, Oct 28: A total of nine ecotourism clusters involving 676 homestay entrepreneurs in Sarawak have been identified by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) as potential destinations where sustainability of their ecotourism products are to be preserved.
With sustainable tourism as its focus, MOTAC minister Dato Sri Nancy Shukri said the ministry will work towards reviving the tourism industry in the identified ecotourism clusters in line with the National Ecotourism Plan (NEP) 2.0 (2020-2030).
The clusters listed were Lundu-Sematan-Telok Melano-Tanjung Datu; Bako-Santubong-Kubah-Semenggoh-Bau-Padawan; Sri Aman-Batang Ai-Ulu Sungai Menyang-Maludam; Sibu-Kapit-Tunoh-Baleh-Palagus; Mukah-Daro-Pulau Bruit-Tanjung Manis; Bintulu-Bakun-Belaga-Lusong Laku-Nanga Merit-Murum; Miri-Sibuti-Niah-Loagan Bunut; Limbang-Mulu-Gunung Buda; and Lawas-Bario-Ba’kalalan-Baram.
Other than the 676 homestay entrepreneurs, MOTAC also counted 50 villages which would be involved in this project and among them are Kampung Teluk Melano, Kampung Bako, Rumah Panjang Bawang Assan, Kampung Sungai Asap, Kampung Senau, Kampung Darul Islam Belimbing, Kampung Krokong and Kampung Atas.
In 2020 when Covid-19 hit, Nancy said the income earned by the homestays was over RM1.2 million, with an attendance of almost up to 9,700 visitors.
“While the income was far better before the Covid-19 pandemic, which was about RM4 million in 2018 and 2019, hopefully the reopening of the domestic tourism activities and relaxation of interstate and intrastate travels will allow these homestay entrepreneurs to generate good income again,” she said.
Meanwhile, this initiative is also part of the bigger National Tourism Policy (DPN) 2020-2030 formulated by MOTAC as a transformation agenda that focuses on efforts to increase national income, promote cooperation and investment, empowering local communities as well as strengthening durability and sustainability of the country’ tourism industry.
“Through DPN, MOTAC also intends to make Malaysia as one of the world’s most preferred ecotourism destinations given Malaysia is among 17 countries known for its megadiversity and richness in flora and fauna,” said Nancy in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur today.
Nancy was answering Mas Gading MP Mordi Bimol, who inquired about the ministry’s strategies and measures taken to re-stimulate growth of the ecotourism sector especially in Sarawak that has some ideal tourism destinations such as Mulu National Park, Tanjung Datu National Park, Gunung Gading National Park, and Kubah National Park.
In terms of allocation for the eco-tourism development in Sarawak under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), Nancy noted that a total of RM8.002 million has been allocated under MOTAC’s budget to fund 12 projects in the State.
She highlighted three, which included facilities improvement of the volcanic mud tourism in Meritam, Limbang, ecotourism development project in Kuching Wetland National Park (KWNP) and ecotourism facilities development in Santubong National Park. — DayakDaily