KOTA KINABALU: Tourism industry players should think out of the box to come up with unique and fun products so that tourists will not get bored seeing the same things when visiting Sabah, a state minister said.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah has a lot of potential in the industry, and it is more than just snorkelling, islands and mountains.
“Yes, we have many tourists coming here every year but if we keep telling them to go up the mountain, go to the islands and try snorkelling, they would probably feel bored after some time,” he said at the opening of the Borneo Ant House theme park in Tuaran, 35km from here.
Masidi said there were about 3.24 million visitors to Sabah last year, generating revenue of about RM7.5bil, showing the state’s popularity as a destination.
That is why, he said, Sabah’s tourism products need diversity and creativity.
“The more products (we have) and the more diverse they are, the better it is for us and for tourists,” he said.
He also urged tourism players to incorporate homestays and hotels into their products as these are some aspects of tourism where there is demand and room for growth.
Masidi commended the operators of the Borneo Ant House for daring to be different by offering underground walkways and tunnels, simulating an ant nest, as well as canopy walkways.
“This is a family business and I am proud to see Sabahans tap into this industry,” he said, adding that the ministry would help promote the Borneo Ant House through its Tourism Board.
“We will assist where possible for this place to be marketed and maybe expanded in future,” he said.
The Borneo Ant House will be open to the public from July 1. The entrance fee is RM9 for the disabled, senior citizens aged 60 and above as well as children aged seven and below.
Malaysian adults are charged RM18 per entry while non-Malaysian visitors are charged double the fee for each category.
Borneo Ant House executive director Sufiah Abd Rahim Lee, 59, said the underground walkways and mini-tunnels will educate visitors a little about ants, as well as some unique aspects of Borneo culture.
Visitors can also take in the nature via the canopy walks, said the mother of five.
“The name ‘Ant House’ is taken from the concept of living underground, like an ant,” said Sufiah, a retired teacher.
She said her family wanted to come up with something no one had done before.
In the three underground galleries for visitors to explore, the first features ants; the second showcases the cultures of the Bajau, Dusun Lotud, Iban and Bidayuh peoples; and the third focuses on swords.
“The Bajau and Dusun Lotuds make up the majority of the population in Tuaran while the Iban and Bidayuh people are the largest ethnic groups of Sarawak,” she said.
Sufiah added that the sword gallery also includes weapons from headhunter days of yore.