Sabah’s rural tourism set for a boost

KOTA KINABALU: Traveloka, Indonesia's fastest-growing tech company, is keen to collaborate with the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) to boost the global promotion and marketing of rural community tourism products in the state, said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

The state Assistant Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister conveyed this to the villagers of Kampung Tiong Melangkap during the launch of the village's Tame Fish Ecotourism Family Day on Wednesday (Oct 25).

He said he had discussed the matter with the founder of Traveloka for a potential collaboration during the recent United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

"This is indeed encouraging as it reflects their recognition of the immense potential in our sustainable community tourism initiatives,” he said.

"With Traveloka's extensive experience, I believe they can be instrumental in driving our community tourism initiative forward," added the STB chairman.

Traveloka Co-Founder Albert Albert and its vice president Widya Listyowulan had reached out to Bangkuai after he proposed to UNWTO members to collaborate in developing and promoting rural tourism.

Founded in 2012, Traveloka has rapidly emerged as a leading Southeast Asian technology company, providing an extensive online platform for travel and lifestyle services.

Notably, they currently host a vast network of over 150 community-based tourism operators on their platform

To move things along, Bangkuai has requested the Federation of Rural Tourism Association Sabah (Fertas) to identify and compile a list of 50 community tourism operators known for their excellent facilities and services.

He said these operators will constitute the initial phase of the proposed collaboration.

"We are eager to engage in further discussions with Traveloka, and I believe we should explore opportunities to support rural communities and enhance the visibility of their tourism products.

"This approach can significantly expand the exposure of rural communities to a broader and more diverse audience.

"Placing their offerings on a well-known platform like Traveloka opens the door to potential tourists who may not have otherwise discovered these rural experiences in Sabah," Bangkuai said.

In turn, he urged all rural community tourism operators, including in Kampung Melangkap Tiong, to continue their dedication and showcase their unique creativity in promoting respective areas while continually elevating their customer service to excellence.

"Rural tourism players must continuously work towards enhancing their services and facilities to the highest standard possible," he said.

Meanwhile, Bangkuai called on other community-based tourism and rural tourism operators to emulate Melangkap Tiong Tame Fish Eco-Tourism for its success in receiving Asean-standard and national-level recognitions.

The Melangkap Tiong Eco-Tourism is among the top community-based tourism in Sabah, with a monthly income of up to RM20,000.

Its chairman Domius Salindap said this revenue stream empowers them to offer vital financial aid to villagers, covering expenses related to unfortunate events such as death, hospitalisation, and education, with assistance ranging from RM200 to RM500.

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