HULU TERENGGANU: The rural development ministry wants to encourage participation of rural folk in tourism as a way to improve the livelihoods of these communities.
Its minister Rina Mohd Harun said this is also part of an effort to capitalise on the country's tourism potential in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020.
"We are already working with agencies such as Felcra (Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority) as well as the Orang Asli communities, for example, to help us develop more ecotourism attractions," she said.
She added that rural tourism will also offer opportunities for both local and foreign tourists to appreciate the country's beauty in a rural setting as well as learn and experience the cultures of those communities there more closely.
"This is the perfect opportunity to show off the uniqueness of a state," she said.
She also assured that any preparation and development work would be balanced with efforts to conserve the surrounding natural environments.
"That is a must," she said.
Rina was addressing the media after launching the eighth Kenyir Festival at Lake Kenyir on Thursday (Aug 30).
She said with proper teamwork and collaboration, Lake Kenyir has the potential to be a popular tourist destination akin to the Lake District in Britain and the Balkans in Eastern Europe.
"Kenyir has its own attractions such as the houseboats as well as the elephant and kelah (a breed of fish reared as delicacy) sanctuaries, and these can be complemented with other water sports and land activities for it to be a complete tourist destination," she said.
She said efforts are also underway to develop homestays at two villages near the lake in a bid to attract more visitors to the 260sq km man-made lake.
She also said communities within the lake area can also be actively involved in various activities in the tourism sector including boat operations and the food and beverage industry.
"This is in line with the ministry's plans to develop rural tourism as a way to improve the livelihood of rural communities," she said.