KUALA TAHAN, Sept 10, 2015: Taman Negara has potential to be a popular bird-watching tourist destination, with an average of 25,000 birdwatchers a year.
Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia (Ecomy) chief executive officer Andrew Sebastian said birdwatching should be encouraged as much as possible as it is an activity that would not destroy the ecosystem.
“Birdwatching is gaining popularity because it is a form of ecotourism that does not negatively affect birds or host communities, but supports the conservation of the sites visited, while delivering livelihood benefits.
“The United States has 20 million birdwatchers, but only 1.7% make their way to Malaysia, which means there is plenty of untapped tourism opportunity.
“Malaysia ought to to be a part of birdwatching tourism as a big chunk of the birds are in Southeast Asia, with the second highest distribution at 21% out of 11,000 species of birds in the world.”
He added that 59 birds in Malaysia were endemic and found nowhere else in the world, such as the Malaysian peacock pheasant.
Andrew pointed out that when ecotourism did well, it would be easier to protect nature. “You’ll only want to protect something if you know and understand about it.”
Malaysia has 795 bird species and is 5th among countries in Asia in terms of reports from birdwatchers.
An estimated 24,000 foreign brirdwatchers come to Malaysia and the top 2,000 hardcore birdwatchers spend an average RM15,000 per person or RM30 million a year, according to Ecomy.
Meanwhile, Kuala Tahan Tourism Operators Association chairman Abdul Jalil Abdul Rahman said plans were already afoot to train bird guides. “We hope that by having sufficient trained bird guides, this will make Taman Negara a popular destination to many who would be interested in birding.
“This would be the first step in the effort to offer quality bird guiding in Taman Negara.
” He noted that properly trained bird guides would be able to provide a good balance of practical outdoor birding while teaching tourists on related subjects such as bird identification techniques, study of trees and shrubs, and bird behavior.
Reference : http://www.therakyatpost.com/news/2015/09/10/taman-negara-has-failed-to-tap-tourism-revenue-in-birdwatching/