Sabah rural tourism operators bag award

Huge honour: Bangkuai (fourth from right) with Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (centre) posing with the winners and other delegates at the 2023-2025 Asean Tourism Standard Award in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

KOTA KINABALU: Three rural tourism operators in Sabah have been awarded the prestigious 2023-2025 Asean Tourism Standard Award in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Padas Farmstay and Mari-Mari Cultural Village were given the Asean Community Based Tourism award while Homestay Taun Gusi picked up the Asean Homestay Standard award.

Padas Farmstay managing director Tham Yau Kong, Mari-Mari Cultural Village base manager Jeremiah Jamson, and Homestay Taun Gusi coordinator Ismail Muile received the awards in conjunction with the Asean Tourism Forum.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the awards further enhanced Sabah’s growing international reputation for its rural tourism products.

“I’m delighted to see the unfolding of Sabah’s incredible success story in rural tourism. I congratulate our award recipients on their perseverance in maintaining the highest levels of product and service quality despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The accreditation of three Sabah rural tourism products with the Asean Tourism Standard Award is a major boost to the international profile of Sabah’s rural tourism,” said Bangkuai, who led the Sabah Tourism Board delegation at the Feb 3-5 Asean Tourism Forum event.He said the success augured well for Sabah Tourism’s mission to boost rural areas and their communities.“Hopefully this will serve as an inspiration for others to raise the bar and work together to make our rural area a world-class place to visit by 2030,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

The Asean Tourism Standard Award is a recognition that helps support the goals of the Asean Tourism Standard in accordance with the Asean’s Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025 for quality and excellent service to tourists.

It was designed with the objective of making Asean an excellent destination on a global scale.

Apart from the awards, the Sabah International Convention Centre won the Asean MICE Venue Award (Exhibition Venue category), with the awarding ceremony set for next year.

Padas Farmstay in Tenom was officially established in 2017, but it has been open to the public since 2013, when an international student group expressed interest in educational and community programmes.

It has received between 10 and 20 school groups per year since then and have completed 60 community projects that have benefited 20 nearby villages.

Mari-Mari Cultural Village started operation in 2008, offering a glimpse into the lives of Sabah’s rich culture with its distinctive houses, costumes and traditional skills of Sabah’s five major ethnic groups.

Homestay Taun Gusi in Kota Belud is a community based homestay registered with the Tourism, Art, and Culture Ministry in 2011.

It has 18 certified homestay members, offering unique experiences to guests including cultural performances, horse riding, traditional cooking, river cruise, Bajau parang making demonstration and village tours, among others.

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