PONTIAN — The Tanjung Piai and Pulau Kukup National Parks in Johor, both located in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary constituency, are well known in the local ecotourism sector, and their status as “Ramsar” sites have also made them the choice of nature lovers locally and abroad.
The two National Parks have the distinction of being among the seven Ramsar sites in the country.
Ramsar sites are wetland areas designated under the Ramsar Convention in 1971 through an intergovernmental treaty signed on the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
The Tanjung Piai national park is a 526-hectare mangrove forest which is home to 20 species of native mangrove and another nine related species. It stands out for having coastal mangroves on the southernmost tip of the country and mainland Asia.
Meanwhile, Pulau Kukup with an area of of 647 hectares surrounded by about 800 hectares of wetland is the second largest mangrove island in the world with 47 species of mangroves recorded.
Johor Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung said several efforts were being carried out by the state government to “market”Johor including both its National Parks to international and local tourists.
“It was in 2003 that the Tanjung Piai Johor National Park was recognised by the Ramsar Convention as a Ramsar Site, making it a unique selling point for the state government to market to tourists, especially those interested in eco-tourism or nature lovers,” she said in an interview with Bernama recently.
She added Pulau Kukup was another destination promoted by the state government as an ecotourism site.
In conjunction with Visit Johor 2020 Year, she said Tourism Johor had introduced 20 events and 20 destinations which it would promote.
Liow said Pontian, Tanjung Piai and Pulau Kukup had been chosen for the “Festival Hujung Benua’ (‘End of the Continent’ Festival) adding there would be collaborations with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to record videos at interesting sites.
Liow added that various corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes had been carried out by the government, private sector and NGOs such as gotong-royong and tree planting projects including garbage collection to foster a love for the environment.
“We are also partnering with Singapore through the Passport 2 Nature programme in which the Pulau Kukup National Park will work with the Singapore Tourism Board and the state government in efforts to upgrade the national park facilities and to further enhance its image as an ecotourism site.
“I hope the efforts made by the state government, the private sector, NGOs and the local community including the promotional activities, will enable the public to know more about Tanjung Piai so that more people will come here,” she said.
The Ramsar site is an important area for the conservation of aquatic birds and the wetlands which play a role in protecting mangrove forests such as the Pitta Mangrove, Blue Flycatcher Mangrove and the Whistler Mangrove which are globally endangered. They have become global tourist attractions, bringing revenue to the state government and the people of the Pontian district and the residents of the Tanjung Piai parliamentary constituency.
Meanwhile, Liow also reminded tourism industry players and product owners to work together to promote the industry by creating attractive packages to enable travelers to enjoy a variety of travel products and not focus on one product or attraction only.
“The state government will work with ‘product owners’ to create videos that tell their background or history in captivating ways as tourists love interesting stories about a place or product.
“Food is such an important component of the tourism industry, especially traditional food which are unique to the place such as burasak, a must-eat meal when visitors come to Pontian,” she said.