Kadamaian has proven itself to be among the fast-growing rural tourism destinations in Sabah, receiving over 100,000 tourists and visitors last year.
Located in the Kota Belud district, about 75 kilometres from here, Kadamaian offers a variety of rural eco-tourism products such as its pristine rivers, waterfalls, hills, and forests.
Kadamaian Tourism Association (KATA) president Walter Duis Kandayon said the association recorded a tourism revenue of RM1.6 million last year as compared to RM900,000 in 2017.
"Kadamaian rural tourism is new. KATA was established in 2015 in an effort to empower Kadamaian as a tourism product. At that time, Kadamaian did not receive many visitors because there were no tourism products in place.
"From 2015 onwards, we slowly established the necessary infrastructure and developed tourism products. Kadamaian only started receiving visitors in 2017, with about 80,000 arrivals," he said when contacted.
He added 90 per cent of visitor arrivals were domestic and the rest were international.
Many of the foreign tourists were either independent travellers or travelling with family. Kandayon also noted that international researchers came to Kadamaian for research purpose.
He stressed that KATA’s mission was to transform Kadamaian into a world-class rural tourism location with top-class cleanliness by 2025.
Within four years of KATA's establishment, the association received a special recognition award from the state government for its community effort in developing and making Kadamaian a rural destination of choice.
In January this year, KATA received the Asean Community Based Tourism Standard 2019-2021 at the Asean Tourism Ministers’ Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.
"We appreciate the acknowledgement given to us by the Asean Tourism Secretariat and this will definitely push us more to achieve our main mission, which is to be world-class. KATA is committed to empower community-based tourism.
"We have about 60 registered members, including community-based, family-based and individual operators. Everyone is working together to boost tourism and the economy in Kadamaian.
"We have another six years to achieve our 2025 mission. We have put in place our strategic and action plans. I hope the community's spirit will continue because we really depend on their commitment," said Kandayon.
Speaking on KATA's achievement, he said the association has helped to enhance organising skills among local residents, boost the people's economy, create employment opportunities, and reduce migration to the city, among others.
Since the development of Kadamaian tourism, Kandayon also noted the community has taken cleanliness seriously.
He also said villagers have taken initiatives to undergo basic safety skills training as part of their commitment to ensure the safety of people visiting Kadamaian.
In July, Sabah’s Tourism, Art, and Culture Ministry and KATA jointly organised a two-day basic safety training course for river activities at Kampung Terintidon, which is an eco-tourism village by the river.
Kandayon noted the Kadamaian river is one of the main attractions among visitors. Other recreational activities available for tourists and visitors in Kadamaian are jungle trekking, hiking, birdwatching and stargazing, among others.