THE Bako National Park has become the latest eco-tourism hotspot with visitor arrivals increasing manifolds over the years even though the tropical getaway is accessible only by boats.
Its general manager Siali Aban revealed the park received a total of 38,810 visitors last year, exceeding the number as of October this year.
“There were 28,793 foreign and 10,017 local visitors last year. We have not totalled up the number of arrivals this year as we are just about to do our year end report,” he told reporters on a visit the park recently.
“However, our records show the figure (38,810) has exceeded the total number of visitors as of October this year.”
Siali also presented interesting statistics on visitors from 1980 to the present.
According to him, in the whole of the 80’s, the park recorded 127,336 visitors, of whom 93 per cent were locals.
“There was a sudden surge in local visitors after Kuching-Bako road was completed in 1985 – from 5,579 in 1984 to 29,247 a year later,” he said.
In the 90’s, however, overseas visitors increased greatly, forming 48 per cent of the total 161,559 visitor arrivals.
“There was an increase in foreign visitors in 1994-5 because of Visit Malaysia Year – from 3,634 in 1993 to 8,675 in 1994 and 9,795 in 1995,” Siali added.
Statistics on local visitors to the park show a steady trend while overseas visitor arrivals escalate annually.
“From the millennium to 2010, we have recorded a total of 286,203 visitor arrivals, of whom 74 per cent were foreigners,” he said.
A comparison between decades, the overall statistics show a distinct rise in foreign visitor arrivals from just seven per cent in the 80’s to 48 per cent in the 90’s and 74 per cent today.
As for local visitors, the graph reveals a strong turnout with 93 per cent in the 80’s followed by a sudden 52 per cent drop in the 90s to a small 26 per cent today.
“From the figures, we can conclude that the number of overseas visitor arrivals is rising faster that of than local vistors,” Siala said.
Bako National Park with land area of 2,727 hectares, including the small Lakei Island, is the oldest and first national park in Sarawak.
Surrounded by forests, fields and seas with dramatic landscape, fresh air, no light pollution or noise, it is heaven for Nature lovers, walkers, hikers, photographers and holiday makers.
And no, there are no plans to build link roads because the boat ride from Bako village to the park is part and parcel of an experience that brings visitors face to face with Nature.