KUCHING, May 14 (Bernama) -- The move to gazette Mulu National Park as a
non-smoking area by 2017 will not deter tourists, Sarawak Local Government and
Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said here, today.
He said with the worldwide concern on healthy environment, the move instead
could encourage even more visitors to the park, which had been declared as one
of Unesco''s World Heritage Sites.
"On one hand, (some people would say) it would deter smoking tourists, but
on the balance, we would not lose out on the long run (in terms of tourists''
arrival)," he told reporters after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) between Malaysian Health Promotion Board (MySihat) and the
Sarawak Health Club to promote the Mulu Heritage Smoke-Free project.
MySihat chief executive officer, Datuk Dr Yahya Baba and Sarawak Health Club
president, Dr Zulkifli Jantan were the signatories in the MOU.
Wong said time was needed for the people to be educated towards the idea to
turn the park into a non-smoking area, since it would also benefit in terms of
preventing forest fires due to indiscriminate disposal of cigarette butts.
WONG-MULU (WITH PIX) 2 (LAST) KUCHING
In his speech prior to the signing ceremony, Wong called on tourism
stakeholders involved in the promotion and services at the Mulu National Park to
refrain from smoking and play their part to ensure the success of the smoke-free
Meanwhile, MySihat chairman Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong said the Mulu project
would be the second to be initiated by the board in Malaysia after Melaka, which
is also a UNESCO World Heritage City, was gazetted as a smoke-free area since
June last year.
"Obviously, the Smoke-Free Melaka project had been able to attract more
foreign and domestic tourists who emphasized on destinations that had fresher
air quality and free from cigarette smoke," she added.