Sabah's CoBT, a new destination to discover

By TIN Media | Sabah Published 6 months ago on 11 March 2022
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Sabah's community-based tourism (CoBT) is an exclusive product to the state as peninsula-based travel agents have discovered.

Tourist guide Tham Yau Kong said in the peninsula, such tourism products were more akin to homestay programmes.

"For CoBT, it involved the participation of the rural community who worked closely with the local travel agents, unlike homestay which operate individually," said Tham after the end of three days familiarisation trip organised for the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) members from Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan and Peninsular Malaysia on Wednesday.

Tham guided the MCTA members to explore the state's rural CoBT in Kadamaian and Kiulu as well as Kinabalu Park and Sabah Tea Garden.

"The visit to Sabah Tea Garden was to promote plantation tourism which is also part of the Sandakan-Ranau death march route, and this is under the war tourism segment," said Tham who was the chief tour guide during the programme.

The visit to Kadamaian was to let the visitors know that after climbing Mount Kinabalu, they could continue to visit or participate in the CoBT, Tham said.
"Our peninsula-based travel agents only sent their customers to climb Mount Kinabalu and city tour, but now we want to tell them there are plenty of CoBT destinations to explore at the foot of the mountain.
"The programme ended in Kiulu, where the members have a fun time enjoying the rafting activity. They were so fascinated to see the crystal clear river and refreshing waters," said Tham.
MCTA president Paul Paw who led the delegation of buyers from the peninsula for a B2B (business to business) session with Sabah sellers on March 6, said the highland and countryside attractions were the most compelling selling points for presenting Sabah to tourists.
"We were brought to see quite a lot of new scenery, and this time our objective is to look into community-based tourism (CoBT) to discover what the rural community has to offer before promoting it to clients.
"To understand Sabah well, we have to mix with the 'kampung' people, and they are polite and friendly. Such is a great community culture to promote, and I'm sure visitors would like to experience it," said Paw.
He likened Sabah CoBT to Taiwan, where the community was also welcoming and eager to show visitors around their village.

MCTA Sabah Chapter chairman Vincent Sia said although some of the peninsula-based travel agents had been to Sabah before but unaware of the CoBT products.

"When we visited the Polumpung Melangkap Campsite in Kadamaian, the members were touched to learn how the 2015 earthquake changed the landscape and made the village a new riverside attraction.

"Apart from that, our trip to Kiulu was memorable for the members who got the opportunity to do water rafting. I'm sure all MCTA members will surely think about promoting this CoBT segment," said Sia.

State Assistant Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai encouraged tour operators to promote CoBT to domestic tourists during the closure of the country's international border.

He said Malaysians should take advantage of exploring the state's rural attractions, some of which have won international awards and are gaining traction with foreign travellers.

"Of course, with the border opening next month, Sabah looks forward to welcoming back international visitors.

"Sabah Tourism has been advertising countryside destination aggressively, and we anticipate that tourists will visit CoBT areas. This will rejuvenate the economy of rural communities."

On Wednesday, the Sabah Tourism Board represented by chief marketing officer Tay Shu Lan and chief financial officer Julinus Jeffrey Jimit hosted a farewell dinner for MCTA delegates.


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