KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s community-based rural tourism (CoBT) approach has caught the attention of industry players in other states.
Recently, the Terengganu Tourism Department traveled to the rustic Kiulu countryside of Sabah to find out more.
They visited riverside Kampung Lingga, where villagers run the Dapako Hill hiking trail and Camping Lingga ecotourism site.
They also visited the Kampung Bambangan Lama recreation center, which is run by the women of the village and includes accommodation shacks, a campsite and a hiking trail built by the operators themselves.
Terengganu Tourism Department Director Fadli Yusof Zakaria said the visit gave them insight into a structured CoBT program that involved local communities as a whole, and he found rural community tourism in Kiulu exceptional.
He said that like Sabah, Terengganu also sees CoBT as having great potential to deliver unique and exciting tourism experiences to visitors.
“Sabah has made progress in implementing CoBT since its inception in 2014. We hope that the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) can help us develop our CoBT products,” he said.
“CoBT products in Terengganu have their unique aspects, just like those in Sabah.
“We believe that STB and Terengganu Tourism can collaborate on several things, including promotion,” Fadli added.
He said Terengganu Tourism noted that collaboration between CoBT operators and tourism associations was essential.
In Terengganu, the department only started focusing on the CoBT segment last year and has identified 28 potential products in eight districts, 15 of which are ready for commercialization.
Among them are Dataran Batu Putih in Marang and Kalang Warisan in Kuala Terengganu.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment of Sabah and Chairman of STB, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, who was also present, said that Sabah and Terengganu could learn from each other in terms of promotion and of attracting visitors from one state to another.
“We are delighted to see Terengganu taking Sabah as inspiration in its initiative to develop CoBT products and empower rural communities.
“With the recent launch of a new direct flight between Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Terengganu, it is even more important for both states to work together to achieve our respective tourism goals,” he said.
He also suggested exchange visits between CoBT operators in the states to allow them to make connections as well as share knowledge and experience.