The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment has urged the state's tourism players to venture into the hidden gems of the East Coast of Sabah.
Speaking in the context of digital tourism, its minister Christina Liew said the state's tourism players should leverage on the â€˜attractive and meaningful' images of the East Coast, thus piquing the interest of tourists to visit Sabah, through the Internet.
"Promote and introduce the â€˜road less travelled' areas, especially in Sabah's East Coast to give an opportunity for the East Coast communities to open up to the tourism industry" Christina said in her speech, read by her assistant minister Assaffal P. Alian at the Sabah Tourism Board's Intermediate Digital Tourism Workshop opening ceremony.
"If the East Coast was to tap into the Chinese segment, they must know how to keep up with the trends as the Chinese are very technology savvy" Christina added.
Meanwhile, during a press conference held at the event, Assaffal added that there were still many parts in the East Coast that had not yet been explored, citing Darvel Bay as one of the areas that could be further improved as a tourism hotspot.
According to researchers, Assaffal was made to understand that the bay possessed beautiful wildlife and corals. Thus, he opined that the area could be turned into a marine park.
However, before Darvel Bay could be gazetted as a marine park, a thorough research would have to be conducted first, to assess the exact potential of the bay.
Since Darvel Bay is located just near the Lahad Datu Township, transportation will not be an issue as the road leading up to the bay is still in good condition.
Assaffal also said that the accommodation was one of the key challenges in promoting the bay as a tourism hotspot as it was lack of hotels. However, he opined that the issue could be addressed by considering other forms of accommodation, such as homestay.
He is confident that through the Sabah Tourism Board, Darvel Bay could be further promoted as one of the most popular tourism hotspots in the state.
It is understood that the workshop was the second of its kind to be held this year and it was subsidized by the State Government.
The workshop was attended by some 100 participants and it was held at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru. The sessions were led by Damian Cook, who is the founder and CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, a major global initiative to develop online tourism.
The workshop focused on many aspects of online tourism, namely management, marketing calendars and timing, measurements, audience building, campaign creations, e-marketing strategies and many more.
Since workshops of such calibre would often be held in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, the ministry had urged the participants to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Also present in the event were Sabah Tourism Board general manager Suzaini Sabdin Ghani and the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai.