Stage set for community-based tourism operators to showcase Sabah’s hidden treasures

Bangkuai (left) chairing the first 2022 Community-Based Tourism Roadshow main organising committee meeting with industry players.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s rural tourism operators have the opportunity to showcase the hidden gems in the state to the domestic and international audience, with the return of the Community-Based Tourism Roadshow (CBTR) next month.

Organised by the Sabah Tourism Board, this year’s CBTR will take place in conjunction with the 6th World Tourism Conference (WTC) at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC).

The 6th WTC will be taking place from Nov 28 to 30, with a total of 700 international and local participants anticipated to attend the conference.

It is jointly organised by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

On the other hand, the CBTR will run for three days starting from Nov 27, and is expected to draw in about 3,000 local and international visitors.

The roadshow will bring with it several international experts and a larger number of participants, all in an effort to promote rural destination offerings.

Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the upcoming CBTR is an opportunity for tour operators and rural tourism product operators to get together and discuss how to better package rural destinations for new markets.

“Our objective is not only to reach out to the locals, but also to exhibit the tourism offerings of our rural areas to WTC delegates in the hopes of encouraging them to travel to these places during their time in Sabah.

“It is our aim that this time's CBTR would offer our rural tourism operators the much-needed exposure and put our hidden attractions into the international market,” he said, after chairing the first CBTR 2022 main organising committee meeting here on Tuesday (Oct 4).

Bangkuai, who is also Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, said the CBTR will be participated by 27 districts and 11 sub-districts; the various ministries as well as government and private agencies; and tourism-related associations, among others.

The roadshow will exhibit and market new tourism products in each district and sub-district in Sabah, in collaboration with the district offices and registered district tourism associations.

It also intends to highlight the distinctiveness of Sabah culture, traditional food and indigenous handicrafts.

In addition, there will be an international forum on community-based tourism featuring speakers from neighbouring countries of Thailand and Indonesia.

Aimed at providing an alternative source of income for the rural folk, Sabah's community-based tourism concept has grown rapidly since its inception in 2014 with the pilot projects in the rural areas of Kiulu and Kadamaian.

This concept is widely regarded as one of the state's strongest rural products.

The Sabah Tourism Board has been instrumental in assisting in the expansion of the concept to other districts, which has resulted in several community-based tourism (COBT) operators receiving accolades for international recognition.

"Sabah now has more than 100 COBTs and is regarded as a pioneer of the initiative with several states in the peninsula sending delegations to learn more about the concept,” said Bangkuai.

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