KOTA KINABALU: The state government will be meeting with local authorities from the Lower Kinabatangan area to discuss sustainable tourism practices in a bid to protect wildlife and promote green tourism.
Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said she was told that many lodge and tour operators in the area were not keen to be attached with any associations that could restrict their operations.
She explained that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Kinabatangan-Corridor of Life Tourism Operator Association (KiTA) and the state government through the Sabah Wildlife Department to promote sustainable tourism in 2015.
Since 2015, KiTA has been trying to get all lodge operators to be members but many were not keen.
In a press conference Monday (June 3), Liew said that out of the dozens of operators, only nine were members of KiTA.
She added that this means the rest do not contribute to conservation fees or enforce sustainable safety regulations among other matters.
There are more than 300 species of wildlife including birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish in the Lower Kinabatangan area.
KiTA president Alexander Yee said they have tried to get everyone on board but many were not keen.
“We are not sure why, but maybe because they do not want to be bound by the rules and choose to operate according to their own laws,” he said.
Citing an example, he said if KiTA members see non-members bringing tourists without lifejackets on a river cruise, they cannot do anything to make sure that these tourists and boat operators put on their lifejackets.
Earlier, Liew said she will be submitting a proposal to the state Cabinet soon as part of the government’s efforts to protect Sabah’s remaining endangered species such as the banteng (wild buffalo), proboscis monkeys and Sunda clouded leopards.
“This proposal is an action plan on how we can help protect our wildlife to prevent them from dwindling in numbers and from going extinct just like the Sumatran rhinos,” she said.
Liew said she will also be leading a delegation to Indonesia right after Hari Raya to discuss collaborations on how to revive the near extinct Sumatran Rhino in Sabah.
“We need to save our remaining female and at least make sure that a calf is born,” Liew added.