Kota Kinabalu, 19 November 2017: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President Datuk Tan Kok Liang is elated that the Sabah State Government is channelling precious funds for infrastructure development to boost rural tourism.
MATTA President attended the tabling of 2018 Budget by the Sabah Chief Minister, Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Musa Aman held at the Sabah State Legislative Assembly last Friday.
Tan said “I was earlier notified to expect some goodies be granted for the local tourism industry and I was not disappointed. As arrivals of international tourists had contributed significantly to Sabah’s economy with its spinoff effect rippling across the state, RM228 million had been allocated to support the sustainability of tourism programmes.”
“The State Government is also stepping up efforts to develop rural tourism, with Kiulu and Kadamaian selected for pilot projects. These sanctuaries are ideal for soft adventure, such as hiking and trekking, allowing many tourists to participate. It would be an invigorating experience for visitors to breathe in deeply the fresh jungle air. Such “lung cleansing tourism” is highly sought after by people living in smog filled cities and regions.”
“To further promote rural tourism, an additional RM15 million was allocated to encourage rural communities to be involved in providing facilities for community based tourism, such as homestay programmes, recreational centres and tourism centres with public toilets; developing, upgrading or commercialising eco-tourism products, ranging from conservation of local species to promoting native cultures, arts and handicrafts.”
“Rural folks need not be bystanders and merely watch those in urban areas reap the benefits of tourism. By empowering them to participate in eco-tourism, they need not leave their ancestral land, heritage and traditions, as tourists would be drawn to these attractions. Tourism is the fastest way to boost the economy of any city, town or village. As such, tourism development in Sabah is set to grow at the right trajectory.”
“Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Musa Aman should be congratulated for managing the state’s coffer well by tabling yet another surplus budget and increasing allocations across the board for various sectors. He has earned the salute of tourism industry players, and eternal gratitude of rural folks that would gain from the new initiatives for rural tourism.MATTA would be happy to lend support and collaborate with local communities to provide a better life for inhabitants and experience for visitors.”
“The focus on rural tourism is certainly timely, as some popular spots are reaching saturation point. To ensure their sustainability, tourists should be diverted to new attractions, which are also needed to draw repeat visitors. The vast expanse of Sabah’s interior not only could accommodate large number of visitors, it is also the tropical paradise tourists look for to have a great holiday and experience”, concluded Tan.
DATUK TAN KOK LIANG
Term 2017 – 2019