KOTA KINABALU: The state-level Harvest Festival or Kaamatan can be more than just an annual event that attracts tens of thousand of visitors to Kota Kinabalu by also serving as a platform for promoting awareness among the rural communities about the potential in the tourism sector that they can tap into in their own areas.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan said the one-month Kaamatan festival can be further nurtured and promoted as a tourism product, not just at the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) complex in Penampang where the state-level celebration is hosted every year, but across the State.
He said Kaamatan celebrations hosted in the interior, for example, can be highlighted as tourism products to attract tourists to visit and experience the culture and tradition of the native people there.
“We know that the Harvest Festival celebration is a tourism product, there is no doubt about it. Anywhere in the world, when we visit a country, we would try to enjoy the local culture. It is the same here.
“Such tourism activities however are so far focused mainly in the urban areas and the people in rural areas have yet to benefit from this, despite most of their activities are actually tourism products in nature and can be highlighted. Kaamatan needs to be nurtured and promoted as a tourism product for the people in the rural areas as well,” he said this during a high tea with the media here yesterday in conjunction with the Kaamatan festival.
Pairin, who is also the ‘Huguan Siou’ (Paramount Leader) of the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) community, said the rural communities are now beginning to realize that they can participate more and benefit from the tourism sector, including through cultural activities such as the Kaamatan.
The rural folks, he said, should not be left out and related authorities should reciprocate their intention to take a more active part in better utilising Kaamatan as a tourism product.
“We want related agencies to take notice that we are doing what is best for the industry and to create that necessary bridge of communication towards the development of tourism in the interior as well as promoting peace and harmony through cultural sharing and appreciation among the people.
“The more people in the interior become aware of the links available for them to tap into the potentials in the tourism industry and the positive chain reaction they can create to their own economy and the economy of the state, we will have a more economically healthy and productive community, and a more vibrant tourism industry,” he said.
Pairin added that the rural communities can carry our their cultural activities profitably through the tourism sector and this will impact positively on the tourism industry overall.
The native people would be able to preserve their art and cultural heritage by promoting them through Kaamatan in the tourism sector, he said.
It is estimated that the two-day state-level Kaamatan celebration to be held at KDCA this May 30 and 31 would attract at least 40,000 visitors.