Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan says there is a need for long-term plans for the district such as the dire need for an airport and a railway to boost its economic growth that will benefit the majority of the interior folk.
With the â€˜creation' of an international airport here, local and international tourists could fly direct to this part of the country, Pairin said.
"I ask the administrators of this district to find the best way to create an airport in the long term that will directly improve the economy of this district in terms of tourist arrivals from local and foreign countries" he said in his address at the swearing in of the District Council Councilors for 2017/2018 held at the Keningau District Council operations room here on Thursday.
Apart from the airport, he said, Keningau as the administration centre of the district should also work out plans for a railway line as it could provide a major impact in terms of tourism.
Pairin, who is also Infrastructure Development Minister, asked also advised the administration of the district, including the District Council to put plans in place earlier to prepare for the Visit Keningau 2018.
"Programs that can attract tourists need to be held during the year 2018 and I believe, Keningau can play a more active role for many tourism products that can be highlighted as the main attractions in addition to the arts and culture of a pluralistic society in this area.
"I also ask about the creation of a cultural village in this area that could boost economic growth and lure tourists, but such a cultural village requires a large area" he said.
He said this cultural village, similar to those found in Sarawak, would have many artistic works and cultural traditions as well as traditional houses representing the various ethnic communities here.
"These include handicrafts, traditional dress, food, dance, music, sports, games and various traditional events representing the communities.
"This cultural village will attract more local and foreign tourists to come and see what we to offer" he said.
Pairin requested the district administrators to find a large area for this cultural village before the eve of the Visit Keningau 2018 to accommodate the plural society which plays a role in developing the tourism industry in the district.
"I hope that in conjunction with Visit Keningau 2018, many tourism products will be highlighted in addition to agricultural products.
He was confident that with the cooperation of all government departments and agencies, youth associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community leaders at the village level, including the District Office and District Council, Visit Keningau 2018 would be a great success.
Earlier in his speech, District Council chairman Haji Yusop Haji Osman said the district had set up 15 tourism packages in conjunction with Visit Keningau 2018.
He said this included beautifying the landscape of this area in addition to improving the places frequently visited by the public, including tourists.
"I am very confident that with the cooperation of the people in this district, government leaders, government departments and agencies, NGOs, the business community and villagers, the Visit Keningau 2018 would be successful.
"All planning and early preparation for the Visit Keningau 2018 have been made during a meeting held recently" he said.
A total of 17 of the 20 elected district councillors were sworn in before Yusop.
The event was also attended by the Assistant Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Datuk Haji Sairin Karno, Keningau Executive Officer Rafiq Haj Jubar, District Chief OKK Amir Datuk Arif and District Police Chief Deputy Superintendent Ahmad Jawila, among others.