KUCHING: More emphasis should be given to the accessibility of national parks and their facilities, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
According to him, although the number of national parks had been increased as one of the measures to protect the rainforests in the state, the facilities in the national parks as well as accessibility were still inadequate.
“Everyone wants to go to Bako National Park because it is nearby, but what about Gunung Mulu National Park? How do you get there? This is one area we still can go into, which is to increase and improve the facilities available in the national parks.
“I can direct the national park people to cooperate with the private sector to develop these national parks so people can enjoy it,” Adenan said yesterday in his keynote address at the Sarawak Tourism Forum 2015 held at Pullman Hotel here.
He cited a national park that had been set up but was not open to the public as an example.
“There is a national park that has been set up but is not open to the public – why would you set up a national park but not open it to the public? Open it up, we want to share it with people so make sure that the accessibility is there,” he said.
Adenan once again emphasised his strict stance on curbing illegal logging by saying that the state government “will not stop until they (illegal loggers) stop”.
“The current directives and initiatives taken by the state government will ensure that more national parks and forest reserves will be created, and therefore in the coming years, Sarawak will have even more forested landscape and countryside to develop as eco-tourism destinations,” he stated.
He added that there was currently an expanding network of more than 30 national parks in the state which were home to many endangered species of animals and birds, including the charismatic orangutan.
“Tourism in the state also includes extensive river systems and valleys – the longest river and third longest river in Malaysia are right here in Sarawak, which are the Rajang River and Baram River respectively. These are splendid waterways and tourists attractions by themselves,” Adenan said.
Touching on future plans to put Sarawak on the global eco-tourism map, Adenan proposed the establishment of a rainforest discovery or research centre similar to Danum Valley in Sabah, naming possible sites as Usun Apau or Ulu Batang Ai.
He also said there should be continued focus on the state’s niche attraction, which are culture, adventure and nature.
“We have 27 ethnic groups of diverse culture and tradition in Sarawak that maintain their own unique way of life, handicraft and festivals, and these traditions coupled with the welcoming nature of our people have long been a mainstream of tourism in Sarawak,” Adenan said.