News & Updates

Sabah Experiences Double-Digit Growth In Tourist Arrivals

Sabah, has for the first time, experienced a double-digit growth in tourist arrivals this year, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun. He said the number of tourist arrivals increased to 12 per cent as of July, contributed by countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.

He said Sabah usually experienced a six percent increase at the highest.

“The most significant arrivals were from China with a majority of high end tourists.

“There was even one month when their arrival shot up to 42 per cent,” he told reporters after representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the launch of the Accor Hotels”” Sabah website here today.

Masidi also expects visitors from China, with about 76,200 as of July, to possibly overtake those from Korea which is currently at around 80,000.

“I recently met with the new chairman and managing director of Malaysia Airlines and suggested that the airline start direct flights between Kota Kinabalu, Beijing and Shanghai.

“We need to give MAS some time to adjust to their new management. But the feedback that I got was that it is only the issue of availability of aircraft,” he said.

He said at present, there was only the Kota Kinabalu-Hong Kong route being served.

“We expect a big influx of visitors from China if Kota Kinabalu is connected to more cities in China, with the country fast becoming a world economy, and more millionaires being created there than in any part of the world,” Masidi added.

Source: Bernama

Rehabilitation of orang-utans bears fruit

Several images of orang-utans building nests in replanted trees were captured by WWF-Malaysia in the newly restored degraded area at the northern part of Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve (NUS), Lahad Datu, where efforts to rehabilitate wildlife habitat were initiated by Sabah Forestry Department (SFD).

These efforts give hope that the wildlife population in this degraded forest will increase before long.

Datuk Sam Mannan, the director of Sabah Forestry Department, expressed contentment upon seeing that the reforestation efforts are helping the orang-utans in NUS.

He also mentioned that the best for the survival of this species is to have well-managed forests as a home.

A mixture of native tree species were planted in NUS with the aim of enhancing quality of wildlife habitat and food sources, especially for the orang-utans.

“The declaration of restoration efforts in Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve on March 15, 2006 is strategically linked to the largest endangered population of the Bornean orang-utan, subspecies Pongo pygmaeus morio, in Sabah,” said Sam.

The Ulu Segama-Malua Sustainable Forest Management, covering an area of 241,098 hectares (ha), was initiated by the state government and is jointly managed by SFD and Yayasan Sabah (YS) for the conservation and rehabilitation of habitat for endangered wildlife.

SFD has partnered WWF-Malaysia in reforestation efforts within 2,400 ha of the NUS area since 2008.

WWF-Malaysia chief technical officer (Borneo programme) Dr Rahimatsah Amat was delighted to see that the orang-utan conservation efforts in NUS were bearing fruit.

“The orang-utan is the largest arboreal (tree-living) animal in the world. They spend most of their time in trees; feeding, sheltering and travelling through the forest canopy from one tree to another. Without trees, it would be difficult for orang-utans to survive.”

Thus, his hope is to see orang-utans continue utilising the restored forest area, which has more replanted trees for food, shelter and travel.

“We’re already seeing some really exciting results from our research and monitoring team, reporting evidence of much wildlife starting to return to the restored areas of the degraded forest. Not just orang-utans but also other wildlife such as clouded leopard, sun bear and many more endangered species

There was a herd of wild Borneo pygmy elephants that passed through our reforestation site early this year but fortunately, they didn’t cause any major damage to the replanted trees. On the other hand, the elephants have left their dung at the replanted site as a tremendous natural fertiliser,” added Dr Rahimatsah.

A video clip of an orang-utan swinging on replanted trees can be viewed at WWF Malaysia’s Youtube site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO-roPfjcP4

Dr Rahimatsa also stated, “We could not have done it without the collaboration from SFD and YS as well as our generous donors who have always been a part of our conservation effort.”

Funding for the reforestation in NUS is from WWF-Germany, WWF-United Kingdom, WWF-Netherlands and WWF-Japan, including from the private sectors, i.e. Adessium Foundation, Itochu Group, Marks & Spencer, Seng Heng and Aeon Jusco.

To date, 1,096 ha of degraded forest in NUS have been replanted out of the total 2,400 ha which was allocated to WWF-Malaysia for reforestation by the SFD.

In recognition of the efforts contributed by the SFD towards managing USM under the SFM model, the Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve was awarded the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate by the Scientific Certification System (SCS) at the FSC General Assembly held at Kota Kinabalu in June 2011.

The certification would mean that the home for orang-utans is better conserved.

Source: Borneo Post

Cultural village set to be latest attraction at KDCA compound

There is no better way to promote the rich cultural diversity in Sabah than allowing one to experience it themselves.

And with that in mind, Datuk Richard Bainon took up the challenge to redevelop the existing cultural village within the compound of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), also known as the Hongkod Koisaan (Place of Unity).

With the addition of a suspension bridge, a handicraft centre, a landscape garden with a pond and a fully functional stage as final touches to the area, it is set to be the latest attraction complementing the 11 traditional houses at the cultural village.

Developed at a cost of nearly RM1 million, the place is run by KDCA Cultural Village Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between a private company and the association which aims to turn the Hongkod Koisaan into a one-stop tour attraction to woo guests all year long.

Dubbed the KDCA Cultural Village, Bainon, who is the venture’s chairman, said the area complements Hongkod Koisaan, which is already a magnet for revelers during the final week of the month-long Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival celebration in May.

“But it remains idle the rest of the year except for a few activities. So we thought that since Hongkod Koisaan is already a household name for cultural programmes, why not make full use of the advantage and turn it into a one-stop centre to further promote the rich cultural diversity from Sabah.

“They will stage shows with performances from the various ethnic groups in Sabah by our very own dance team. In fact, we are also encouraging locals from different ethnics and districts to come and stay at their respective ‘houses’ to promote their handicrafts. This interactive exhibition will be done inside the 11 traditional houses,” said Bainon,who is also KDCA deputy president.

At the new cafe, the public will be served with traditional delicacies.

“We want to present our food in such a way that it can be savoured and appreciated by visitors … you are bound to find hinava, bambangan and basung fish on the menu,” he said when hosting a get-together with tour agents and other tourism players recently.

Bainon said that what they were trying to do was to add value to the Hongkod Koisaan and at the same time, provide opportunities to native entrepreneurs as well as introduce what our indigenous communities have to offer in terms of their culture and traditions.

For now, entry is free, but eventually, a minimal fee will be charged.

“We are also thinking of turning the traditional houses into homestays so that the public will have the opportunity to live the locals’ daily life.

“I believe this is just a way of doing our small part in promoting the Sabah culture. We are thankful that for the last couple of months, response has been good,” he said.

Source: Borneo Post (by Sandra Sokial)