Saturday, December 14

Mt Kinabalu to remain top attraction – Masidi


KOTA KINABALU: The State Government will continue to feature Mount Kinabalu as the main attraction in promoting Sabah’s eco-tourism destinations, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

The success in reviving the soon-to-be reopened Mt Kinabalu to its formal glory however depends on the support of all stakeholders, which among others include travel agents, hotels and tour operators.

Tthe whole eco-tourism industry could not be developed successfully without the involvement of a wide range of organizations, including non-governmental organizations, Masidi said when officiating the launching of Mountaineering and Ecotourism at Shangri-La Kota Kinabalu here yesterday.

He also stressed that the industry would not be successful without effective management strategies and policies, for without them it would be unlikely to develop a positive relationship between the people, resources and tourism activities being developed.

“Eco-tourism is neither a simple concept to define nor a sraight forward phenomenon to implement and evaluate. It should be regarded as being more than tourism to the natural areas but viewed as a means of combining the goals of resources conservation and local development through tourism in a synergistic fashion.

“This means care should be taken to ensure that the goals of tourism development do not interfere with the goals of protecting natural areas and biodiversity. All stakeholders should safeguard the natural environment with a view to achieving sound, continuous and sustainable economic growth geared toward satisfying equitably the needs and aspirations of present and future generations,” he said.

Masidi’s text of his speech was delivered by Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Pang Yuk Ming who officiated at the launching on his behalf.

Mount Kinabalu, which attracts legions of tourists from across the globe every year, has been closed to visitors after a deadly earthquake claimed the lives of 18 climbers and mountain guides nearly five months ago.

The 6.0 magnitude tremor that hit the mountain on June 5 also left trekking trails impassable and damaged some of the lodging facilities in Laban Rata, the final stop for climbers before ascending to the summit.

After a thorough safety assessment and months long repairing works, Sabah Parks which manages the World Heritage Site, is confident enough and plans to fully reopen the mountain to tourists starting December.

Global Expedition Club under the leadership of Ravi Everest, Malaysia’s renowned solo Everest climber, was planning to organize a “Kinabalu New Trail Search”, a series of exploration climbs to help identify and build new and safer trekking routes to the peak of Mt Kinabalu.

Also present at the at the forum, during which Ravi delivered a mountaineering talk entitled “Challenge the Summit”, was Deputy President of Malaysia Tourism Council (MTC) Taib Wahab.

Meanwhile, Pang said his ministry and Sabah Tourism Promotion Board (STPB) were prepared to work together with the MTC in promoting Mount Kinabalu and other tourism products in Sabah.

He also commended the council for taking the initiative to organize the forum, saying the event augured well with the State Government’s effort to further boost tourism development in Sabah.