KUCHING: Malaysia is positioning itself as one of the world’s major birding destinations, with the launch of the ‘Birds Malaysia’ website yesterday, drawing bird-watching and bird-photography enthusiasts from all over the world.
The website is the first in Malaysia specifically for the birding sector and for guests to buy travel packages to look at endemic and migratory birds in the country, said Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general Zulkifly Md Said.
Due to the importance of birding tourism, Tourism Malaysia has commissioned Ecotourism Conservation Society of Malaysia (Ecomy) to create the first-ever official and dedicated website (www.birdsmalaysia.my) as an ideal platform to promote bird-watching packages.
“This website offers more than 25 packages all around Malaysia which are directly provided by seven bird-watching operators.
“The packages start from a minimum tour of 4D3N up to 21 days, and the range of the price is between RM3,500 and RM10,000 per package,” he said during the launch of the website at Kuching Waterfront yesterday.
Ecomy, as the owner of the website, will manage and update the website on a regular basis.
According to Zulkifly, birding is one of the niche products with the most potential and can attract more quality tourists to Malaysia; thus helping the tourism industry – eco-tourism in particular – to prosper.
He added that Malaysia had great potential to develop itself as the ultimate bird-watching paradise because of the diversity of bird species and location.
“Malaysia has over 795 bird species, of which nearly 60 per cent is in the state of Pahang and Langkawi Island. The variety of climates and habitats are the contributing factors as to why this region is extremely rich in birds and other biodiversity. Among those include hornbills, eagles, kingfishers, spider-hunters and egrets.
“Our country also lies on the path of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway that provides strategic and important resting sites for migratory birds flying between wintering sites in Southeast Asia and Australia and the breeding sites in China, Japan, Korean, Mongolia and Siberia.”
He also said Malaysia had been selected as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is one of 218 countries identified as IBAs involving nearly 12,000 sites.
A qualified IBA must meet a set of standardised criteria based on the presence of species that are of worldwide conservation concern, he added.
Zulkifly said from January to June this year, tourist arrivals recorded 13.35 million – a growth of 4.9 per cent compared with the same period last year – with tourism revenue of RM41.69 billion.
Based on the estimation provided by Ecomy, Malaysia Nature Society and birding operators in Malaysia, he said the birding industry in Malaysia would generate at least RM36.8 million by the end of this year.
This estimation was based on the average package price per person of RM6,500 and a total of 5,663 foreign bird watchers this year.
Zulkifly added that he hoped the website would be able to provide the necessary knowledge and experience to potential clients around the world, while also educating the younger generation on the importance of conserving the environment as it will have impact on the birds in the country as well as migratory birds.