Sabah Tourism Board ready to help rural communities achieve global destination standards

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) is ready to help rural communities get the skills they need to transform their areas into world-class rural tourism destinations by 2025.

State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said his ministry hopes to see more rural and community-based tourism operators in Sabah achieve the calibre of Asean Tourism Standards award-winners.

This followed the success of Kadamaian tourism, which has seen rapid growth and for which the Kadamaian Tourism Association received the Asean Community-Based Tourism Standards Award 2019-2021 in Hanoi, Vietnam, early last year.

“The tourism industry is one of the main thrusts of the Sabah Maju Jaya Development Plan to develop the state from 2021 to 2025.

"My ministry and STB are always committed to developing the rural community through tourism activities that contribute to the state's economy," Bangkuai said on Monday (Oct 25) at the Nahandang Melangkap Homestay and Campsite Open Hall at Kampung Melangkap in Kota Belud district, about 80km from here.

"To achieve this goal, STB will provide seminars and skills training in terms of awareness, safety, and management to tourism associations, rural tourism operators, and local communities involved in conducting tourism activities in their respective areas," he added.

He also called on rural tourism industry players to adopt sustainable practices in operating the industry to ensure sustainable and long-term development.

The Nahandang Melangkap Homestay and Campsite Open Hall is among 85 projects to build and upgrade tourism infrastructure under the Sabah New Deal for Kota Belud, which involves total financial assistance of about RM1.67mil.

This special assistance was implemented by the state government during the Covid-19 pandemic, during which STB helped coordinate the distribution of financial aid to affected local tourism industry players.

To boost rural tourism activities, Bangkuai also encouraged operators to continue to work with STB in identifying new quality products that can be developed.

This includes exploring the potential of introducing Dark Tourism – travel to places associated with death and tragedy – in the district, where his ministry is actively planning to promote the concept to locals and foreign visitors.

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