“Going green” is a phenomenon that has been permeating in all aspects of life – including travel. A consistently growing percentage of globe-trotters are looking for destinations and activities that offer nature-based activities with minimum impact to the earth. Thus, ecotourism has become the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry and it is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.3% until 2017.
Malaysia offers a wide range of natural and cultural assets that make ecotourism a highly beneficial, sustainable and long- term form of tourism. The country, located in Southeast Asia, is one of the twelve mega- biologically diverse countries in the world. It boasts more than 15,000 species of flowering plants, 286 species of mammals, 150,000 species of invertebrates, and 4,000 species of fish, in addition to countless micro-organisms.
Covering almost 60% of its landmass, Malaysia’s ancient tropical rainforests are millions of years old and are home to an incredibly diverse array of flora and fauna. Experts believe that many animals, plants, flowers, and trees living beneath its lush canopy have yet to be discovered.
The ocean and seas surrounding Malaysia shelter various marine life that rely on the delicate balance of an undamaged ecosystem. Turtles from the other side of the world migrate thousands of miles to nest on Malaysian shores.
Malaysia’s reputation as a premier ecotourism destination is further strengthened by the inclusion of the Gunung Mulu National Park (Sarawak) and Kinabalu Park (Sabah) in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites List. Langkawi Island, located in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia, has also been recognized by UNESCO as a geopark, a title given to outstanding geological landscapes in the world.
Visit one of the many conservation areas, marine parks and national parks such as Taman Negara in Pahang, which is not only the first and oldest official protected area in the country, but is actually one of the oldest rainforests in the world, estimated to be 130 million years old.
Discover one of the country’s fascinating animal sanctuaries, such as the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary in the Sabah District of North Borneo, or the Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary, responsible for relocating more than 450 wild elephants.
White water raft through raging rapids, discover the sloping reefs, coral blocks and ship wrecks in a diving expedition, or explore the ancient artifacts lurking in the deepest crevasses of Malaysia’s cavernous regions. Whether you are interested in mountain climbing, jungle trekking, or bird watching, Malaysia has the perfect eco- tourism activity just for you.
While promoting natural attractions in the country to tourists, the Malaysian Government also recognizes the importance of sustainable tourism and the balance of conservation and development. As such, the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia, has adopted the National Ecotourism Plan (NEP) to provide policies and guidelines for the conscientious development of ecotourism.
Malaysia will continue to protect its environment, to ensure that travelers from across the world will be able to enjoy the country’s unique and natural wonders.
For more information on Malaysia, please visit www.tourism.gov.my.