KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Rural Development Ministry will intensify efforts to focus on tourism-centric activities in Mini Estet Sejahtera (Mesej) projects at rural villages.
Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick said many of the existing 52 Mesej villages can be tapped and turned into rural tourism attractions to generate income for participants.
He added that currently two Mesej projects were doing this now.
At the same time, he also eyes Mesej projects in coastal areas and beaches for further development in this sector.
“We had selected Mesej Kaingaran (Tambunan) and Mesej Kinolosodon (Papar) to be the two pilot initiatives for tourism by providing various facilities.
“Kaingaran is strategic because it is located between Tambunan and Mount Trusmadi, so we had channelled allocations to build a rest house called ‘Walai Tundorongon’ as one of the accommodation options for tourists to this district, especially those visiting the mountain, ” said Ewon in a statement issued Saturday (Nov 9).
He had officiated at the launch of the rest house in a ceremony at Mesej Kaingaran earlier on Friday (Nov 8).
The rest house lodging was built with a RM160,000 funding from the Ministry through the Tambunan district office.
“I hope tourism activities at Mesej Kaingaran can be expanded to include rubber-tapping programmes.
“There are villages like Kg Lobong-Lobong, Kota Belud, which offered packages on their own initiative for tourists to learn to tap rubber, especially foreign visitors, and it has become popular, ” he added.
The Kadamaian assemblyman reiterated that the tourism village initiative can be developed from existing Mesej projects as well as creating new ones.
“There are several Mesej projects in other districts at islands and coastal areas which are being developed for sea cucumber and seaweed cultivation.
“But I feel the real potential for these Mesej coastal villages are tourism-centric activities involving the beach and the sea. I want to see this developed next year, ” he stressed.
He expressed confidence that this initiative will be able to increase the Mesej participants’ income so that they are out of poverty.