‘Focus on forest and ecotourism’

Forests such as the mangrove at Kampung Pendas Laut Gelang are among areas with rich biodiversity in Johor that can be promoted to attract tourists. — ZAZALI MUSA/The Star

JOHOR has more to offer tourists beyond just being a destination for shopping and theme parks.

To prepare for Visit Johor Year (VJY) 2026, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Vincent Chow said the state government should start focusing on ecotourism and forest tourism segments to attract tourists.

“Ecotourism and forest tourism have been around for years in Johor but sadly there has been a lack of joint efforts by the state agencies to promote them,” he told StarMetro.

Chow suggested that the Johor government, Tourism Johor and the Forestry Department start engaging with tourism players to devise the best ways to further promote the state’s ecotourism and forest tourism.

He proposed that the relevant agencies engage with non- governmental organisations like MNS due to their vast knowledge of the state’s rich biodiversity when promoting the segments.

“For a start, we can have road shows or exhibition in Johor Baru to bring local and foreign players in the tourism industry,” said Chow.

He said continuous efforts were needed from all parties if Johor wanted to promote its ecotourism and forest tourism at the international level and emerge as a leading player in the country.

“We are blessed with rich biodiversity at locations such as Endau-Rompin, one of the oldest tropical rainforest complexes in the world, which features rock formations some 248 million years old.”

Chow said Pulau Kukup, Tanjung Piai, Sungai Pulai Ramsar sites and the pristine islands off Mersing in South China Sea were among the other locations with rich biodiversity in the state.

Johor Homestay Association vice-president Ahmad Mohamed said agrotourism activities could be promoted for VJY2026.

“Tourists, especially foreigners, are not really interested in seeing our skyscrapers but are seeking experiences unique to Johor,” he pointed out.

He said such experiences included homestay packages that allowed visitors to try out village life and related activities.

These activities included tapping of rubber trees, harvesting honey from stingless bees, plucking oil palm fruits and playing traditional games, he said.

Batu Pahat, Kulai and Muar districts as well as Felda settlements in Kota Tinggi have potential for hosting homestays, he added.

Ahmad said a Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house would be held next month in Kota Tinggi’s Kampung Temin to promote agrotourism, and invitations would be sent to tourism players from Singapore.

He added that the association would collaborate with Tourism, Art and Culture Ministry, Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Johor to organise the event.

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