KOTA KINABALU: Promoting the uniqueness of Kiulu with the objective to make it a prime ecotourism destination has been bearing fruit so far, according to Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.
Tourist arrivals to Kiulu came up to 27,000 last year and their numbers surged to nearly 40,000 between January and September this year alone, he told reporters in a press conference for the third Kiulu Adventure Challenge (KAC), yesterday.
“What we want to highlight and promote through the KAC is the uniqueness that Kiulu has to offer.
“The run itself is unique, because it does not only combine cycling and running, but rafting as well.
“We also made sure to include family involvement, with the introduction of a 5km Family Fun Run this year, in addition to the existing Kiulu Mini Carnival,” he added.
Joniston said the KAC was organised as one of the many efforts to promote rural tourism and empower the local community by creating tourism and business opportunities in Sabah.
“Kiulu locals are heavily involved in organising the KAC because we want them to really be able to feel the benefits of expanding ecotourism opportunities in their hometown.
“We don’t want Sabah to be known only for our Mount Kinabalu. We want Sabah to also be associated with richness in traditions and culture from its interior parts,” he added.
Earlier, KAC race director Auther J Kimon said flag-off would be at 6.30am on December 3, at Rumah Tradisi Kiulu.
The route includes 13 kilometres of running and 30 kilometres of cycling along the hilly earth trails passing through villages and hanging bridges, alongside white-water rafting along the scenic Kiulu River.
“The first five kilometres of the run will be on asphalt road while the second part will be on gravel. It’s all undulating surfaces so that’s why we call it a challenge.
“There are even some parts of the route where participants will have to carry their bicycles, hence the term ‘mini challenge,'” said Auther, adding that the highest peak of the route reaches up to 140 metres.
He also said each checkpoint is complete with markers and crew, and that the route was chosen due to its low risk and convenience for emergency evacuation, which provides accessibility to injured participants.
The Kiulu Mini Carnival will also be held on the same day in Kiulu town, featuring stalls operated by locals selling authentic local food and handicrafts.
Other activities include traditional games, catch-a-duck competition, stone painting, coconut bowling and tug-of-war.
Approximately 430 adventure enthusiasts have registered for the challenge so far, while interested parties can still register till November 25.
Those interested can submit registration at the Kiulu Tourism Association office in Tamparuli Point, Chanteek Borneo in Tamparuli, KLK Ponohuon Lodge in Kiulu, Riverbug office in Wisma Sabah here or through WhatsApp at 017-7698862 (Suzie).