KOTA KINABALU: Small rural villages can play a role in showcasing the richness of Sabah’s unique Kaamatan Festival by creating their own immersive and comprehensive Kaamatan calendar, says Datuk Joniston Bangkuai (pic).
The state Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister said such initiatives would unlock the hidden gems of small-scale celebrations in picturesque rural villages.
He said this would allow tourists to have the opportunity to experience the vibrant festivities and venture into rural destinations.
“This collaborative effort should involve representatives from each district working closely with local communities and village leaders to gather accurate information about the Kaamatan celebrations such as the dates, locations, specific cultural activities and performances in each village.
“The calendar should be made available to tourists and tour agencies so they can plan itineraries during the month-long Kaamatan celebrations that align with their interests and desired experiences.
“Having such a designated calendar will make it easy for the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) to assist with promotional efforts,” he said at the opening of the Kaamatan celebration at Kampung Ponohuon in Kiulu, about 60km from here, on Monday.
Bangkuai, who is also STB chairman, said the Kaamatan Festival calendar would contribute to the equitable distribution of tourism opportunities across Sabah’s districts.
Larger towns and cities, he said, often received more attention while smaller villages and rural areas were overlooked.
“By showcasing the celebrations in different villages, the calendar can help to promote a more inclusive and balanced tourism landscape, encouraging visitors to explore lesser-known areas and supporting local economies.
“This initiative also aligns with the state’s sustainable tourism goals, ensuring that the economic benefits of tourism reach all corners of Sabah,” he said.
Bangkuai also attended the Moginakan – a reunion festival for the Kadazandusun family – at several different homes in Kampung Tiong Tomburung.
According to Tiong Tomburung village chief Sipin Sikui, the Moginakan is usually celebrated for two days in conjunction with the Kaamatan celebration but could extend up to a week.
“It is the time when distant relatives make a trip back home to renew the bonds that have kept the family together.
“We will take turns visiting houses during this reunion. Tiong Tomburung has over 20 homes,” he said, adding that they would have to wait another seven years before it could host a Moginakan to pave the way for the other six villages that fall under the Tiong umbrella to have their own.