The State's rural communities have been told to look into rural tourism as a getaway from big, polluted cities, as there is big ringgit to be made.
The advice came from Musa Aman when the chief minister launched the rural tourism roadshow at the Imago Shopping Mall on Friday, 4 Aug.
Musa Aman said that four areas - Kiulu, Ranau, Kadamaian and Tambunan - all within the western and interior flanks of Sabah - have been earmarked as rural tourism gems for their fresh air, green surroundings and proximity to the city.
"These areas - not more than a two-hour drive from the state capital - have the potential to attract local and foreign tourists, especially those who come from large cities" Musa pointed out in his speech.
"I am sure they will find these districts perfect in terms of getting some good air to breathe and in enjoying the greenery and landscape.â€
According to the chief minister, the District Tourism Action Council is a platform that can be used to contribute, plan, formulate and carry out activities to attract more tourists to the rural areas.
He said the rural tourism industry could sustain lives and even lead to a paradigm shift in the community's mindset and participation in government initiated tourism policies and which would also provide them with an opportunity to earn alternative income.
He said commitment from stakeholders including elected representatives was needed to start promoting the districts' tourism products,
Rural tourism is the brainchild of Joniston Bangkuai, an ex-journalist-turned-Kiulu elected representative and now chairman of Sabah Tourism Board.
Bangkuai said that they have been working closely with the local communities to host tourists in a wide range of back-to-nature activities - from camping to hiking hills, white water rafting, river fishing and experiencing the local hospitality.
"The aim is for villagers to have an alternative income while selling tourists on our natural attractions in less-populated areas" he said, adding that the move would also encourage local villagers to appreciate and preserve their natural environment.
Meanwhile, Masidi Manjun, the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister said the roadshow was organised to showcase Sabah's rural based tourism products to tourism industry players and the public at large.