KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor (pictured) wants community-based tourism (CoBT) to be aggressively developed due to its great potential to spur economic growth, particularly in the rural areas of Sabah.
He said the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) could count on the full support of the state government to tap the full potential of CoBT.
Hajiji was pleased to note that despite still being in the recovery phase following the Covid-19 pandemic, several initiatives the ministry and STB took had already borne fruit, especially in the CoBT sector.
And, he also said 224,356 tourists visited rural tourism destinations in the state last year, bringing in nearly RM8 million in tourism receipts.
“This only reflected figures from Kadamaian (Kota Belud), Kiulu (Tuaran) and Tambunan. I believe the figures could be higher and will continue to grow with joint aggressive push in promoting rural tourism by all District Tourism Action Councils and district tourism associations throughout the state,” he said at the launch of the Sabah CoBT Expo at Suria Sabah here today.
Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai delivered his speech. Tourism is one of the state’s main pillars of economic growth under the Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya development plan and the state government will invest in infrastructure and skills development for rural community tourism.
“I want to see Sabah’s rural community tourism be at par, if not better, with those in other countries. “The state government welcomes efforts by the STB and the Federation of Rural Tourism Associations Sabah (FeRTAS) so that CoBT has its own brand – a positive step toward improving service and facility quality.
“The state government also welcomes the call by STB chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly for rural community-based tourism to be given special attention by the world body,” he said.
The Chief Minister meanwhile assured that the state government would continue to back the efforts for Sabah’s CoBT to achieve 80 per cent Asean Standard compliance by 2030.
The three-day expo, he said would serve as a transformation plan for Sabah’s CoBT, showcasing the rural community’s strength, and offering tourists an authentic experience.