Sabah seeks to learn from award-winning Indonesian village on community-based tourism

Bangkuai (third right) led the Sabah Tourism Board team to visit Nglanggeran Tourism Village managed by Sugeng Handoko (second left) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is looking to learn from an Indonesian tourism village to help bring its community-based tourism sector to a new level.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai was in Yogyakarta on the island of Java on Friday (Feb 3) to visit the award-winning Nglanggeran Tourism Village.

Bangkuai, who is also the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman, said taking cues from the tourism village can assist Sabah improve its own sustainable community-based tourism initiatives.

He said that this was paramount as the state was planning to have more of its tourism players achieve international recognition as part of the process of transforming Sabah into a world-class rural destination.

“We should not limit ourselves to our own examples of success, but instead look to the achievements of others and draw ideas and motivation from them.

“In this way, we will be able to raise the bar for rural tourism and make significant improvements.

“We want to see the high-end offering in our rural destinations so we can lure quality tourists,” Bangkuai said after touring the Nglanggeran Tourism Village with his team from STB.

They were in Yogyakarta for the Asean Tourism Forum and to visit several attractions for product updates.

Also present were STB deputy chief executive officer Julinus Jimit and Federation of Rural Tourism Association Sabah (Fertas) president Walter Kandayon, who is also a STB board member.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) had named Nglanggeran Tourism Village the World's Best Tourism Village for 2021. It also won the 2017 Asean Community Based Tourism (CBT) Award.

Located within the Gunung Sewu Geopark, Nglanggeran offers a variety of tourism activities and services, such as cultural tours, homestays and outdoor recreation, appealing to a wide range of tourists.

Bangkuai said Sabah rural tourism players could learn from Nglanggeran village’s effective marketing of itself as a unique and authentic tourism destination that draws visitors from around the world.

“I have informed Fertas to get in touch with the Nglanggeran Tourism Village committee with the hope that we can make future engagements in Sabah,” he said.

He added that Sabah could also learn from the local experts at the village on how to manage geoparks and apply the knowledge to the state’s very own Kinabalu National Geopark, which encompassed the districts of Ranau, Kota Belud and Kota Marudu.

During the visit, Nglanggeran Tourism Village manager Sugeng Handoko shared with the Sabah Tourism delegates that the village's efforts to promote community-based tourism bring in revenues of about RM2mil each year.

Following their tourism success, the village had to limit the number of visitors from 14,000 to 8,000 visitors a month in order to focus on attracting quality tourists and ensuring sustainability.

Sugeng added that they were more than willing to share their experiences and, at the same time, learn more about the unique offerings in Sabah through engagement with the state’s community-based tourism players.

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