UNESCO recognitions are catalysts for ecotourism

KUNDASANG: The twin crown jewels of Sabah’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Kinabalu Park and the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve, are catalysts for ecotourism for local communities and paves the way forward to building an environmentally sustainable future.

Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, Datuk Masidi Manjun said the two nature reserves, recognised as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO has enhanced the image of Sabah’s natural wonders which provided immense economic opportunities for local communities through ecotourism.

“The UNESCO status is global recognition for Sabah’s natural wonders and played a vital role in bringing socioeconomic growth for local communities, evident from the mushrooming number of small-scale homestays, handicraft stalls and cafes all along the road to Kinabalu Park,” beamed Masidi.

He said the recognition has placed Sabah on the world map, after Kinabalu Park was declared the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, while the second UNESCO Site named the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve in 2014.

“The way forward to implement conservation frameworks is centred on sustainable development which provides the platform for alleviating poverty, enhancing the livelihood of local communities,” Masidi said during his address at the Malaysia UNESCO Day 2017, yesterday.

With tourist arrivals at all-time high, Masidi pointed out the state’s booming tourism industry continues to grow at 3.4 million tourist arrivals in 2016, generating RM7.25 billion tourism receipts from RM6.61 billion in the previous year.

“The government is committed to the protection and sustainable development of nature reserves under the 10th and 11th Malaysia Plan and the state government channelled RM27.2 million while RM17.4 million provided by the federal government for ecotourism and conservation activities in all parks, especially Kinabalu Park,” he said.

Masidi said his Ministry, through Sabah Parks, is also heading efforts towards the nomination of Kinabalu Park and its surrounding area as “Kinabalu Geopark” which will become the third instalment of UNESCO sites under the UNESCO Global Geopark Programme.

Meanwhile, Education Minister, Dato’ Seri Mahdzir Bin Khalid said World UNESCO Day 2017 celebrates the country’s accomplishment at the international level – an event first conceived by the Malaysia National Commission for UNESCO (SKUM).

“Today is a milestone and a proud moment for all Malaysians to be celebrating World UNESCO Day 2017, right here amidst panoramic views of the majestic first UNESCO World Heritage Site,” said Mahdzir.

Source : New Sabah Times