Saturday, January 29

Lifting Pitas through tourism


Bangkuai checking the handicrafts made by Walai Ondoton Pitas Homestay community at Kampung Kuyuh in Pitas, on Friday. – photo courtesy of Sabah Tourism Board.

PITAS (Nov 26): Community-based tourism (CoBT) is a viable means to complement the state goverment’s efforts to lift up Sabah’s northmost Pitas district.

State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said this is due to the fact that Pitas has a lot of untapped tourism potential.

“Pitas has been known as the poorest district, but to me, it is rich in nature, and Pitas beauty can pull visitors. There are already several homestays operating, and many have come to stay, thus helping the community.

“We want to see tourism as a way to bring Pitas folks out of poverty, and this is a way to boost their economies,” he said after launching the Walai Ondoton Pitas Homestay floating resthouse in Kampung Kuyuh here, on Friday.

Bangkuai, who chairs Sabah Tourism Board (STB), also said they aimed to bring in high-end tourists into the state and promote rural destinations as well as nature to them.

He added the Ministry and STB continue to give focus on rural tourism to empower the community and that they are ready to assist in promoting products that are available in Pitas.

“In the meantime, the local community must equip themselves with knowledge about interesting activities and destinations that can be introduced to outside visitors when they come here,” he said.

Walai Ondoton Pitas Homestay is among several community-based tourism in Pitas. It is managed by six villages namely Kampung Kuyuh; Kampung Manggis; Kampung Pogil; Kampung Datong; Kampung Kabatasan; and Kampung Sinsilog.

Homestay coordinator Enting Sambing said Walai Ondoton Pitas Homestay was established in 2007 but was put on hold as the community was not ready to receive tourists at that time.

Enting Sambing

“We restarted and ran our homestay in 2019 and recorded about 400 visitors a month.

“The pandemic has affected us, but we are ready to get back on our feet and welcome visitors once again. I always make sure the community remains in high spirit, but we also need continuous support from STB,” he said.

The homestay floating rest house was part of Sabah New Deal grant meant to help affected tourism players improve and upgrade their facilities.

The rest house was docked at Sungai Kampung Kuluh – a potential tourism product for river cruise activity, proboscis monkey watching, and firefly watching, among others.