Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Langkawi branch chairman Eric R. Sinnaya said the code hoped to prevent natural attractions from being ruined by tourism so that everyone could enjoy long-term benefits.
“Tourism can really improve the locals’ standard of living but we must not kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” he said.
“We can have the greenest is- lands in the world if everyone works together.
“Two decades ago, 95% of the Langkawi islands was green — now we are down to about 60%,” he said.
He said although NGOs could prepare a guideline of best practices, the state and local authorities’ support was needed to endorse and enforce the code, adding that the ecology of Langkawi was very sensitive and needed protection.
He said the Pulau Payar Marine Park was a good example of how tourism had resulted in garbage pollution and coral damage.
The code addresses the conservation of existing tropical rainforests, mangrove forests, coastal eco-systems, bio-diversity and landscapes; garbage management; reduction of pollution and usage of natural resources and adoption of ethical business models by all parties.
‘Conservation of Biodiversity in Langkawi through Sustainable Eco-tourism’ project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and implemented by the MNS.
Its about time this code of conduct or best practices propose by MNS & LADA is no point if the local authorities will not endorse it. It will be just another piece of paper submitted. Anyhow.. I applause MNS effort to proposed such paper.
I really hope that Ministry of Tourism, Kedah Government & Local Authorities support & make the code of conduct / guidelines proposal as compulsory or make it a law. Enforce it then we'll see changes..
The project, which was initiated in October 2008, ended on Thursday.
Other activities carried out under the project were bird watching, shark spotting, green month campaign, beach cleanups, jellyfish operation at Pantai Cenang and myriad exhibitions, dialogues and seminars on fauna and flora.
The aim was to nurture, educate and empower the community to protect Langkawi’s natural heritage through a pragmatic environmental awareness, training and monitoring programme as sustainable eco-tourism practices would minimise the negative effects of tourism on bio-diversity and natural resources.
Eric said the RM145mil project was very important for Langkawi because there was low conservation awareness among the locals and those who were aware didn’t know how they could help protect the environment while helping the tourism sector grow.
Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) tourism manager Megat Shahrul Azman Abas welcomed the code.
He said that as a tourist development agency under the Ministry of Finance, Lada’s focus was to develop the 99 islands as a premier tourist destination.
“We want to practice green tourism by complying with eco-tourism practices to ensure sustainable development,” he said.
“The Langkawi Country Code is a very good effort by the MNS — it shows that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are playing their roles well by being pro-active,” he said, adding that Lada would continue working closely with the MNS.
He said Langkawi’s main draw was her natural surroundings and laidback lifestyle.
“Here, visitors feel very safe — they are not harassed by haggling traders.“Eco-tourism activities like bird-watching and mangrove tours are very popular these days,” he said.
Tourists arrivals from January to October last year was about 1.8mil compared to more than 1.9mil for the same period this year.
Besides Europe which is Langkawi’s traditional tourist market, Middle Eastern and South Asian tourists are also flocking to the islands.
Megat Shahrul Azman also noted an increase in arrivals from Scandinavian countries.
He said Lada would target tourists from Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan next year.