KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) is exploring a collaboration with the Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) to provide soft skills training for rural folks who want to enter the tourism sector.
STB chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the Kadazandusun and Sabahan community in general needed upskilling so they can have better communication skills when explaining their products and cultural values to tourists.
"We are really going strong on rural tourism because of its huge potential.
"In Kiulu itself, the (annual) revenue for its rural tourism is RM5.2mil with more than 40 operators, based on a 2019 report.
"We can work together with KCCI on initiatives to empower the Kadazandusun community in tourism, and KCCI can be a platform to conduct training for targeted areas towards the preservation of culture as well as the environment," said the Kiulu assemblyman.
Bangkuai, who is also State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister, said this following a courtesy call from a KCCI delegation at the tourism board's office here on Wednesday (April 14).
Among the ideas pitched were to work together on a pilot project to train the local community to understand the actual worth of their tourism products.
Meanwhile, KCCI president Datuk Bonipasius Bianis highlighted the need to provide basic training for Kadanzandusun folk with potential to be tourist guides at their respective areas.
Giving the example of Kampung Kiau in Ranau, where locals are acting as guides for bird watchers, he said they did not have the needed knowledge and communication skills.
"There's a need to give them language (training), especially English and knowledge of (local) bird species," he said.
KCCI also highlighted a similar situation with traditional weavers who are unable to explain the value of their products, and often have to accept much lower prices when negotiating with tourists.