Sarawak's National Parks See Surge in Visitors, Aim for UNESCO Status

Sarawak's national parks and nature reserves saw a 3.6% increase in visitors, with 99,364 visitors as of March 2024. The state aims for UNESCO status for Niah National Park's Caves Complex and Sarawak Delta Geopark, promoting sustainable tourism and community empowerment.

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Nitish Verma
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Sarawak's National Parks See Surge in Visitors, Aim for UNESCO Status

Sarawak's National Parks See Surge in Visitors, Aim for UNESCO Status

Sarawak's national parks and nature reserves have seen a significant increase in visitors as of March 2024, with a total of 99,364 people, comprising 23,718 foreigners and 75,646 domestic visitors. This marks a rise from the 95,897 visitors recorded in the same period last year. Popular destinations leading this trend include Semenggoh Nature Reserve and Gunung Mulu National Park.

Why this matters: The surge in visitors to Sarawak's national parks and nature reserves highlights the importance of sustainable tourism and conservation efforts in preserving the region's unique natural and cultural heritage. As the state aims for UNESCO status, it also underscores the need for responsible tourism practices that benefit local communities and protect the environment.

Niah National Park's Caves Complex is aiming to secure UNESCO World Heritage Site status under the Cultural Heritage Category. The final decision is expected to be announced during the World Heritage Committee Conference in July 2024. Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah expressed optimism that the caves will be recognized, following the success of Gunung Mulu National Park in attaining UNESCO status.

The Sarawak Delta Geopark (SDGp), located in the Kuching Division and part of Serian, is also seeking UNESCO Global Geopark status. Since becoming the 6th National Geopark in June 2022, the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts has been actively involved in the Technical Working Groups for Geotourism Product Development and Promotion. In collaboration with Tourism Malaysia, 37 tourism packages have been developed and promoted for SDGp and the Gawai Dayak celebration this year, showcasing the area's geological, biological, and cultural heritage.

To empower and engage local communities in geotourism, capacity building programs are planned to enhance the knowledge and skills of local operators and guides. Various community development initiatives are in the pipeline, including tourism and conservation awareness campaigns, craft-making workshops, hospitality and service quality training, health and safety measures, event management training, and nature-based guiding programs. These efforts align with several Sustainable Development Goals for geoparks, such as ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning.

The Sarawak Museum Department has made significant contributions to the Sarawak Delta Geopark Project, compiling scientific data related to culture and heritage in preparation for the UNESCO Global Geoparks dossier application. As Sarawak's national parks and nature reserves continue to attract visitors and strive for international recognition, the state's premier, encouraging, oil commitment to conservation, sustainable tourism, and community empowerment remains at the forefront.

Key Takeaways

  • Sarawak's national parks and nature reserves saw a 3.6% increase in visitors as of March 2024.
  • Popular destinations include Semenggoh Nature Reserve and Gunung Mulu National Park.
  • Niah National Park's Caves Complex aims to secure UNESCO World Heritage Site status by July 2024.
  • Sarawak Delta Geopark seeks UNESCO Global Geopark status, with 37 tourism packages developed.
  • Capacity building programs and community development initiatives are planned to empower local communities.