ECO-tourism is not just closely interrelated between tourism players and natural sustainability, preserving and conserving natural resources, natural forests and watershed forests.
It is about the harmony and sensitivity between one’s soul, heart and mind with nature and its Creator.
Quoting TIES (The International Society Ecotourism Society), eco-tourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”
Being a nature lover, I have invested heavily into eco-tourism, and setting up a number of eco-resorts, naming them after my children. I see the long-term potential of this industry.
Therefore, we need to preserve our rich heritage – the Malaysian rainforests which, according to CNN Travel, are estimated to be over 130 million years old when the dinosaurs were still roaming on the earth. Our tropical rainforests are known to the world to be even “older than their counterparts in the Amazon or the Congo.”
Appreciating what we have
Malaysia, being just a short drive away from neighbouring Singapore, has the potential of attracting eco-tourists from across the highway.
With the exchange rate favouring the Singaporeans, our eco-resorts can be very attractive destinations for bonding for the extended family, something which can help rejuvenate them after long periods of living in concrete jungles.
Middle Eastern tourists, who have to experience extreme heat in their home countries, Malaysia, with its eco-tourism potential, is a great getaway dream holiday destination. The local Kampung Malay cuisines that we serve at all our eco-resorts, for example, are an added advantage because they are halal.
As Malaysians, we should appreciate what we have and offer to the world our pristine, lush green tropical rainforest with its vast biodiversity and the mesmerising beaches.
The luxury of our chalets at Tanah Aina eco-resorts, amidst all the basics in life provides pampering moments for the family.
A number of our regular clients have also told me that they come to the place for meditation and relaxation, and to get close to Mother Nature after long periods of being cooped up in concrete buildings.
Let’s put Malaysia on world map again!
For this reason, the Government, in particular the minister in charge of tourism, should begin paying more attention to the potential of eco-tourism because of what we have to offer.
The ministry can revive back its Mega Fam (media familiarisation) and attract journalists from the West and Middle East to travel to Malaysia.
I am sure that, with these efforts to put Malaysia on the world map for its eco-tourism, we will see the industry booming once again. — Dec 8, 2022
Puan Sri Sharrifa Sabrina Syed Akli is the founder of Tanah Aina eco-resorts and former president of PEKA.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.