Bajau villagers in Tajau Laut keen to develop tourism potential

KOTA KINABALU: The idyllic northern Sabah seaside village of Kampung Tajau Laut holds a lot of potential as an adventure tourism destination for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The serene seaside village in Kudat, about 180km from the state capital, with a population of about 500 ethnic Bajau fishermen, is slowly opening up for tourists.

A private five room Tajau Laut Guesthouse made out of driftwood has opened up for visitors, and its operator Junaidi Awang Bulat has been working in the village to get the community involved in tourism activities since 2016.

"I constructed a guesthouse with the help of villagers," Junaidi said, adding in 2019, they recorded 589 guests that included 446 foreigners from Europe, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Taiwan, India, Argentina and Japan, among others.

Junaidi noted that after seeing the favourable response, the villagers expressed interest in developing community-based tourism, of which they were initially unprepared.

Recently, the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) product team visited Kampung Tajau Laut to brief the people on the community-based tourism concept after seeing its potential.

Junaidi said that the villagers were grateful to STB for meeting with them because such interaction has raised people's awareness on the necessity of working together to transform Kampung Tajau Laut into a rural community-based tourism destination and keeping their village clean.

As a start, the village community had formed a committee to discuss necessary matters, such as potential products or activities to be introduced to future visitors.

For the time being, tourists and visitors can enjoy snorkelling, kayaking, fishing, coral conservation and cooking. The community is planning to build a jungle trekking trail.

During the engagement, STB staff teamed up with the village community to clean up the beach, collecting 438kg of trash that included plastic bottles, plastic bags, and food plastic packaging.

"It's encouraging to see more locals keen to venture into tourism and develop their resources. Over the years, the district of Kudat has seen more growth of accommodation, and could still benefit from more.

“Our initiatives are in line with our Sustainable Development Goals, especially in guiding the product owners and tourism operators in best practices," said STB chief executive officer Noredah Othman.

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