JOHOR BARU - A bilateral study between Malaysia and Singapore to tap the eco-tourism potential of the Sungai Pulai wetland reserve in southwestern Johor is expected to be completed by June.
This marks the two countries' first joint ministerial committee project on tourism.
Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said an international consultant had been engaged to draw up a proposal on how to turn Sungai Pulai, one of Malaysia's six Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance), into a tourist destination.
The effort will be based on the same method and strategy used by Singapore in promoting its first wetland reserve, Sungei Buloh, near Kranji.
"The study will identify the kind of the eco-tourism activities, the categories of visitors who may be interested and the need for strict management of the wetland reserve," he said here yesterday.
There would also be a need for tour guides who are knowledgeable about the reserve's flora and fauna, he added.
"Johor is also blessed with an abundance of natural wonders, and Sungai Pulai is a good example.
"Together with the rapid development in Iskandar Malay-sia, the state aims to preserve its natural beauty and carry out sustainable development."
Earlier, he launched Echoes of Life, a coffee-table book on Sungai Pulai and its flora and fauna.
The book is the result of a partnership between the Port of Tanjung Pelepas and the Johor chapter of the Malaysian Nature Society.
Measuring 9,126ha, the Sungai Pulai forest reserve is the second largest mangrove area in Peninsular Malaysia.
It was gazetted by Johor in 1923 and was listed as a Ramsar site on Jan 31, 2003.
Only 1,500 copies of Echoes of Life are available in MPH bookstores, priced at RM299 (S$123) each.