Wednesday, July 8

Sabah’s nature attractions not meant for mass tourism – DCM


t front row from left, Suzaini, Rosmadi and Sipaun in a group photo with the participants of the seminar.

KOTA KINABALU: Sustainability of nature tourist attractions in the State could be compromised if these destinations continued to accept visitors beyond their carrying capacity, cautioned Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew.

She said Sabah’s tourism attractions were nature based such as wildlife, flora and fauna displayed in sanctuaries, rivers, parks, forests, islands and beaches.

“These destinations are not meant for mass tourism.

“We need to look ahead in getting quality and responsible tourists,” said Christina, who is also the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

She said the strong visitor growth and demand for nature tourism experience had resulted in great pressure being placed on many of the natural attractions in the State, such as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park off Kota Kinabalu, to expand and accept visitors beyond their carrying capacity.

“If this situation carries on, the sustainability of these tourist attractions could be compromised,” she pointed out.

She said the way forward for the tourism industry was to promote beyond Kota Kinabalu, to include Kudat and the east coast towns of Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau.

Liew said in her speech, which was delivered by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai, when launching the Seminar on Development of Sustainable Tourism in the Rural Areas of Sabah organized by the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Sabah in collaboration with Sabah Tourism Board (STB) here yesterday.

On a related note, she said the Second Sabah Tourism Master Plan (2011-2025) highlighted three key challenges that Sabah had to address to ensure sustainability of the tourism sector going forward.

The first challenge, she said, was to address environmental degradation problems and carrying capacity issues in a number of prime nature tourism sites particularly in the east coast and also in Kinabalu Park.

Secondly, she said the State also had to overcome the existing shortage of skilled manpower in many areas of the tourism sector and to create stronger demand for Sabahan employment.

Christina said the master plan also highlighted the need to develop cities and towns, including Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau, to be more visitors friendly and appealing in order to better manage tourism flows and their impacts.

In addition, she said the number of visitors could significantly grow on a sustainable basis as long as the large scale and high quality facilities and developments recommended in the two coastal tourism development master plans, namely the ‘Tourism Master Plan for the Coastal Area between Tuaran and Kota Belud’ and the ‘Tourism Master Plan for Northern West Coast Area between Kota Marudu and Kudat’ were implemented.

Also present at the seminar were IDS Sabah chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, IDS Sabah senior associate director Jenny Liaw and STB general manager Suzaini Datuk Sabdin Ghani.