KOTA KINABALU: A long-proposed management committee to oversee planning, development and management of the eco-sensitive Lower Kinabatangan region should take off immediately, says Datuk Christina Liew.
The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister said that the committee was aimed at effectively ensuring Lower Kinabatangan becomes a premier, competitive and sustainable eco-tourism destination.
"We have to re-visit the proposal for the committee and it is high time to get it off the ground at the soonest," she said, adding that the committee will consist of all stakeholders of Lower Kinabatangan.
"No more making proposals at this stage, please. It's time for implementation. Much time has passed since 2019 when I launched the International Conference on Sustainable Growth and Practices.
"We have to act now to form the multi-stakeholder management committee with the aim of consolidating Lower Kinabatangan as a premier sustainable eco-tourism destination," she said.
She said the holistic framework and guidelines for sustainable eco-tourism development and operations at Lower Kinabatangan was already in place together with eco-tourism experiential framework (for unique eco-tourism experiences for tourists) as well as the framework for practices of responsible tourism.
"Globally, governments and tourism players are giving emphasis to sustainable and responsible tourism, and Sabah is no exception," Liew said during a courtesy call by a delegation from the Kinabatangan-Corridor of Life Tourism Operators Association, Sabah (KiTA) led by its president Alexander Yee.
Yee together with Borneo Tourism Research Centre (BTRC) director Dr Jennifer Chan from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), also briefed the minister on the collaborative work between BTRC and KiTA to explore the potential of Lower Kinabatangan as a competitive and sustainable eco-tourism destination under a Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2017.
A matching research project to collect data from tourists, tour operators and the local community was completed in 2019, and the award-winning book entitled "Lower Kinabatangan Premier Competitive Sustainable Ecotourism Destination" was published by UMS in 2020 with support of the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.
Chan said that the book was useful for tourism stakeholders to showcase the sustainable destination development by providing guidelines, practices and framework of sustainability in tourism business.