KINABATANGAN, Oct 21 – Twenty-five participants from Asean nations converged for the four-day Asean Tourism Human Resources Management and Development Network (ATRM) Programme for ecotourism here beginning today.
Deputy Secretary General (Tourism) of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry Datuk Haslina Abdul Hamid said ecotourism has become a growing segment in the global tourism industry and plays an important role in promoting sustainable tourism.
“It (ecotourism) contributes positively to the environmental, social, cultural and economic well-being of destinations and local communities around the world.
“According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), ecotourism, nature, heritage, culture and adventure are expected to grow rapidly over the next two decades,” she said when opening the programme here today.
Haslina also noted that 35 percent of tourists visiting Malaysia were engaged in ecotourism-related activities such as hiking, diving, snorkelling, bird-watching, caving and fishing, which implied that ecotourism was relatively popular among tourists to Malaysia.
On the ATRM Programme, she said it aimed to share Malaysia’s experience and expertise on the best practices in ecotourism and also provide a platform for discussion and engagement among representatives of Asean member countries.
“I was made to understand that besides knowledge-sharing by the invited speakers, participants will also be exposed to hands-on activities such as forest restoration, lake conservation and wildlife experience as well as the “voluntourism” (volunteer tourism) project, which is mural painting,” she said.
Haslina said Malaysia would continue to support Asean initiatives to develop the tourism sector in this region based on the Asean Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025.
She also said the ATRM programme was in line with the government's efforts in promoting Sabah as an ecotourism destination, with its rich natural environment and cultural diversity.
Besides that, she said Malaysia was stepping up its promotions this year in preparation of the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign, a landmark campaign targeted at bringing in 30 million international tourists and RM100 billion in tourist receipts to the country.