KUCHING: The state Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is developing birding as a niche attraction in Sarawak, according to its permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik.
Pahon said Sarawak had 54 endemic bird species as well as 22 important bird areas designated by BirdLife International, the highest number of any state in Malaysia.
“As such, Sarawak has a high potential to be a major attraction to birdwatchers. This will directly enhance birdwatching as a niche tourism attraction and provide income opportunities for the tourism industry,” he said in a statement.
The ministry is organising the Sarawak International Bird Race in collaboration with the Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch as part of its initiative to promote birdwatching to visitors.
Participants will observe, record and count rare and common bird species in three diverse habitats - Buntal, Kubah National Park and Borneo Highlands Resort in the Penrissen highlands – on Sept 24 and 25.
Pahon said the race, themed “Because Birds are Important”, would raise awareness and appreciation for birds and nurture a sense of responsibility towards the environment.
“Indirectly, it will help to create awareness among local communities not to hunt our birds,” he said.
Pahon also said he enjoyed birdwatching as it was a fun and exciting activity which could be pursued year round anywhere.