Tourism Industry Players Urged to Work as a Team
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's tourism industry players must work hand in hand to attract more high-end visitors to the state.
Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board, Joniston Bangkuai said that more tourism products need to be produced with the high-end travellers in mind.
"We need as many tourism products as possible and that's why we are going strong in promoting rural tourism because I believe many of our tourism gems lie in the rural area" said Joniston in his speech at the 20th Sabah Hospitality Fiesta 2017 closing dinner on Sunday evening.
Also present were Chairman of the fiesta, Syukur Salleh and Chairman of the Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) Sabah and Labuan Chapter, Thomas Moore Willie.
Joniston explained that there are many potential tourism products in the state that have yet to be identified, explored and polished.
"We have now heard of what's called lung washing activity, whereby tourists go to the rural area for trekking a couple of days and they will be breathing fresh unpolluted air which can help clean your body system and this has been scientifically proven.
"In Kiulu we have a dedicated trail we called it Kiulu Riverside Lung Washing Trekking Trail, and we have seen very encouraging inquiries both from domestic and international visitors.â€
He also disclosed that Sabah needed to have more hotels to accommodate large groups of tourists that will be coming to the state.
"In the recent Malaysia 2018 Budget, our Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) had announced some very generous allocation, including RMBillion as soft loans to those who are interested in building hotels and resorts.
"On top of that, our Prime Minister also had announced RM500 million to improve tourism infrastructure in the rural area to promote eco-tourism" said Joniston, who is also the state Kiulu Assemblyman.
He said the state government was also looking into having more homestay to overcome the shortage of hotel rooms in Sabah.
"With the room shortage, we are now looking into an alternative solution which is to produce more homestays and we have received feedback from international visitors many of whom prefer to stay in villages" he said. "So right now we are working together with Sabah Homestay Association and I think this can help alleviate the shortage of rooms and at the same time give the opportunity to the rural folks to also benefit from the growing tourism industry in Sabah.â€