Malaysia: Pulau Tioman set to attract birdwatchers

JASMIN NABILAH JAAFFAR New Straits Times 13 Mar 15;

ROMPIN: The recent sightings of migratory birds on Pulau Tioman could soon pave the way for the popular island to become the country's latest destination for bird watching activities.

Tourism Malaysia deputy chairman Datuk Seri Maznah Mazlan said the presence of a variety of rare species in the area, could soon draw bird lovers from around the world to the island, popular for diving and snorkeling activities.

She said the state tourism board along with the locals were currently identifying and compiling a checklist on the types of bird species, which will be used as a reference in the future.

"Malaysia has become a bird watching heaven as it is located on the cross-migratory path of certain bird species, especially during the winter season. Since certain species were now spotted on the island, it will surely be a major boost for tourism.

"Malaysia is already home to some 700 species of birds including some rare ones. Currently, Fraser Hill is the favourite among bird lovers especially with their annual bird race event and in the future Pulau Tioman could also host similar events," she said when met on the island recently.

Maznah said since bird lovers, especially foreigners were prepared to spend money to travel and have a closer look on the species, the locals should look into ways to preserve the nature and allow the birds to remain here.

"Bird watching activities offers a promising return for the tourism industry especially for chalet operators and tour guides. Now apart from being a diving heaven, the island can be also developed into a bird watching destination.

"I will wait for a detailed report from the tourism board and villagers before moving on to the next course of action to promote the island for bird watching activities," she said.