The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) in collaboration with the Malaysian Government and the State Government of Terengganu invite you to join us in Merang, Terengganu for the 5th Asia Pacific Ecotourism Conference. The Conference will take place from 27th to 28th October 2007 and the event is a prelude to Visit Terengganu Year 2008.


Themed Marine Ecotourism: Emerging Best Sustainable Practices and Success Stories, the Conference will address these challenging issues and learn how to manage marine ecotourism through sustainable practices particularly in the Asia Pacific region.


The selection of Setiu as the venue for an international ecotourism conference is most appropriate. The Setiu river systems support a diverse array of marine and terrestrial habitats. The estuary, a 22-km long lagoon, also known as the Setiu Lagoon is a very prominent feature on the coast of Terengganu. The mangrove vegetation that fringes the coastal area plays a vital role in providing nursery and feeding grounds for commercially important fish and prawn.  It also a major landing ground for endangered species such as hawksbill turtle, painted terrapin (Tuntong) and estuary crocodile.


The Asia Pacific region comprises of 55 countries and territories with total population of 3.2 billion people. Both the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean carries about 55000 islands and hundreds of thousands kilometres of beautiful coastal shores which attracts holidaymakers from all over the world. This makes the Asia Pacific region an important area for marine ecotourism discussions. Some of the islands are heavily populated tourist resorts while some are pristine eco-islands occupied by indigenous communities; and yet many are still uninhabited. Besides mineral and fishing resources, many of the islands are heavily dependent on tourism, more particularly sustainable ecotourism. While some countries have sustainable practices in place, others are still struggling with challenges in legislative policies, public awareness, capacity building, economic constraints, enforcement, public funding and other peculiar challenges endemic to the destination.


With the continuing growth of mass tourism in the Asia Pacific region generating economic wealth to a developing region, the stark reality is that it is at the expense of the destination's rich social, cultural and natural assets. There is a need to consider new and emerging sustainable approaches to balance between the negative impacts of tourism and the environment, local communities, tourists and the tourism trade.


This Conference calls upon Governments, industry leaders, academia and NGOs in their field of expertise to meet, discuss, network and most importantly, "walk the talk" in policies, plans, strategies and solutions to deliver a common consensus for sustainable tourism in our seas and rivers.


This Conference will attempt to address the following:-

Need for local authorities translate their revenues into sustainable development of coastal areas and surrounding islands.

Need to upgrade environmental management through legislative and institutional strengthening.

Need to upgrade infrastructure and institutional investments in sea and inland waterway transport.

Need to implement and enforce carrying capacity policies

Need for conservation management capacity especially to protect biodiversity.

Need for institutional strength in the environment, conservation, tourism and fisheries administrations.

Need to have strict environment impact studies for all coastal developments

Need for pollution and fisheries surveillance activities 

Need for sustainable management of ocean and coastal marine resources. 


This conference aims to uncover the ingredients of success from experts and ecotourism gurus, learning from projects, destinations and organizations which have been conspicuously successful in marine ecotourism planning, development and marketing.




To create greater awareness among both the public and private sectors members of the ecotourism products and especially showcase new ecotourism products in the Asia Pacific region.


To provide a platform for public and private sector members of the Asia Pacific regions to meet every year to discuss common interests and to synergise its development and marketing efforts to promote Asia Pacific as a single ecotourism destination on a win-win basis.


To further develop ecotourism products, body of knowledge and expertise, both by the public and private sectors for the purpose of using these as a tool for competitive advantage


To encourage greater investment of new ecotourism products in the Asia Pacific region.


To improve private and public sector skills and knowledge in sustainable tourism development.


To generate new ideas on developing and promoting ecotourism for the tourism bodies and government of ASEAN countries in relation to demand for ecotourism in Asia Pacific.


To offer the latest news, market trends, new destinations, and cultural and conservation integration and concerns of those active in improving the ecotourism experience.


To network among conference participants on the latest trends on ecotourism and to learn from each other to develop ecotourism into a bigger niche market



This Conference will bring together a wide range of reputed world leaders in tourism, high-level policy makers, specialists and experts from both the public and private sectors, to exchange experiences, put forward valuable ideas and provide guidance for future tourism development.


Each of the sessions will be followed by a panel discussion in which the ideas presented will be analysed and practical recommendations for action by other destinations will be developed.


By sharing the experience of successful destinations and organizations in the Indian, Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, the Conference will help countries in the Asia Pacific  region spread the benefits of ecotourism to coastal areas and small islands, thereby making an important contribution to one of the elements of ecotourism – economic benefits to the local communities.



The three-day conference will bring together hundreds of ecotourism experts, government officials, and travel/hospitality industry practitioners involved in or working towards responsible tourism.


At the end of the Conference, participants comprising of tourism operators,  nature based and ecotourism operators, State and Regional Tourism organisations, National Parks, Marine Parks and Protected Area Managers, Government Agencies, Nature Researchers & Consultants, Guides, Students and Individuals will gain advanced knowledge, as well as practical tools, resources, and contacts, that they can use to lead their respective industries.


Technical Tours

This year’s Conference program will showcase Terengganu's unique ecotourism sites and cultural assets, and delegates will have the choice of 2 amazing technical tours ie the Setiu Wetland Tour and the Marang River Safari.  There are also optional tours to visit the many rivers, lakes and islands in and around Terengganu.


Having staged a very successful APECO2006 ( last year in Taman Negara National Park, we look forward to welcoming you to Terengganu, Malaysia this for another important and relevant Conference to the Asia Pacific region. Don’t miss it!


Wan Supian bin Wan Ishak

Chairman, MATTA Trengganu Chapter & APECO 2007 Organising Chairman

Lee Choon Loong

APECO2007 Conference Convenor




Inspiring Success Stories ..


Read more



Dr Kelly Bricker, Associate Professor, Utah University and Chairperson of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), USA - Confirmed

Mr. Jose Ma Lorenzo (Lory) Tan, Vice-Chairman, WWF-Philippines  - Confirmed

Mr Chris Briggs - Head, Tourism Industry Engagement Section, Tourism & Recreation Group, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australia - Confirmed

Ms Carolyn Wild, Board Member of TIES and President of Wild International, Canada - Confirmed

Datuk Dr Victor Wee, Secretary-General, Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia - Confirmed



Ms Sarala Aikanathan, Director, Wetland International Malaysia - Confirmed

Prof Dr Nor Aieni Mokhtar, University Teknologi Malaysia & CEO, ISI Ventures Sdn Bhd, Malaysia - Confirmed

Mr Ary Suhandi , Executive Director, Ecotourism Indonesia, INDECON, Indonesia - Confirmed



Mr Tony Charters, Tony Charters & Associates. Australia & 2007 Board Member of TIES - Confirmed

Prof Amran Hamzah, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia  - Confirmed

Mr Masaru Takayama, Board Member, The International Ecotourism Society and Executive Director, Japan Ecolodge Association, Japan  - Confirmed



Ms Cheryl Rita Kaur, Researcher, Centre for Coastal & Marine Environment, Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA)- Confirmed

Mr Thandarayan Vasudavan, Tourism Program Director, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia - Confirmed

Dato' Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Director General, Tourism Malaysia - Confirmed



Dr Reza Azmi, Founder, Wild Asia, Malaysia - Confirmed

Professor CHAN Eng-Heng, Turtle Research and Rehabilitation Group, Institute of Oceanography, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu - Confirmed

Dr Elizabeth Woods, Semporna Islands Darwin Project, Sabah, Malaysia - Confirmed


© WWF-Malaysia/Azwad M.N


The Setiu Wetlands, part of the Setiu River Basin and the larger Setiu-Chalok-Bari-Merang basin wetland complex lies in Terengganu on Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast. Extending 23,000ha, it comprises riparian forests lining the riverbanks, freshwater Melaleuca swamps, peat swamps, mangroves, brackish water lagoon with vegetated sand islands, seagrass beds and sandy beaches.


The sandy beaches, sand islands and riverbanks are nesting grounds for Malaysia’s largest breeding population of painted terrapin (Callagur borneoensis) and are amongst the few remaining mainland nesting sites for the green turtle (Chelonia mydas). Both the painted terrapin and green turtle are endangered species.


Did you know that the Setiu Wetlands supplies between 50% to 60% of Peninsular Malaysia’s grouper (Ephinephelus spp) juveniles and oyster seeds?


The lagoon is a major aquaculture area involving brackish water cage culture, pond culture, pen culture and oyster farming. Surrounding villages produce the well-known Terengganu budu (fermented fish sauce), and other fish and seafood based delicacies like fish crackers, dried anchovies and belacan (shrimp paste).


Continued availability of wetland benefits and services as well as local community socio-economic improvement At present, there is lack of comprehensive plan to guide the integrated and sustainable management of the Setiu Wetlands. Haphazard development by different sectors will result in dire consequences to the wetlands, its biodiversity and other natural resources.


Setiu’s natural wetland features and elements have considerable ecotourism potential. Suitable ecotourism activities may include nature watch (on the unique wetland habitat and turtle nesting), honey harvesting in the Melalueca swamps and recreational fishing.


Ecotourism can generate alternative incomes for local communities, who at present depend almost entirely on the fisheries sector for their livelihood. For ecotourism to be successful and sustainable, local community awareness and commitment is vital.

Media Links

The Star - Travel operator: Have sustainable eco-tourism

The International Ecotourism Society - APECO 2007 Exclusive Offer

Malaysian Tourist Guides' Forum

Sin Chew Jit Poh (Mandarin)

WildAsia Announcement

Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka

The Nation - Sri Lanka

Session 1


Sustainable Development and Management:

sharing the expertise of practitioners in discussing the challenges and advocating sustainability in tourism development, marine environment protection and alleviating the impact of coastal and maritime activities.



Session 3


Succeeding in Marine Ecotourism: featuring proponents of marine ecotourism and initiatives undertaken by both private and public sector and addressing the widespread "green washing" practices that is harming the industry.






Session 2


Policies in Sustainable Tourism: Emphasis on capacity building as the way forward in environment awareness, education and interpretation of marine ecotourism among stakeholders and tourists and a call for national and international collaboration in addressing marine environmental issues.



Session 4



Conservation of Marine Resources: Presenting two successful marine conservation programmes - turtle terrapin rehabilitation programme in Setiu and coral reef protection programme in Sipadan and learning valuable lessons in helping to protect resources for ecotourism activities.






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