News & Updates

Promoting Sabah to backpackers

SEMPORNA: Members of Sabah Backpackers Association (SBA) are working together to offer diversified tourism products to attract travellers to stay longer in the state.

Its president Richie Lee said backpackers would get the opportunity to know Sabah more as they tend to stay longer.

“Backpackers rely heavily on word-of-mouth, social media and the Internet to choose and decide on their travelling destinations.

“After their visit to Sabah, we want them to go back to their countries and write good reviews that will attract more people to the state,” he said at an “End in Sipadan” programme, here, recently.

The programme is organised by the Tourism and Culture Ministry. SBA is a strategic partner that helps the ministry promote dive trails in Sabah.

Lee added that each operator should offer different products to allow divers to explore more.

“People usually fly to Semporna (in Tawau) and end up diving only in Sipadan, but Sabah is blessed with three seas (South China Sea, Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea) and there are definitely more diving trails to experience in the state.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ is a voluntourism programme designed to encourage tour operators to offer packages for divers to build artificial reef conservation,” he said.

He added that divers engaged in the work could return to check the progress of the reef.

Besides that, the association had also been engaging education institutions to be a part of their programmes.

“College students are involved in internship programmes with our members. Through this, the younger generation gets hands-on experience and learning opportunity.

“After their graduation, the association hopes to help produce quality frontliners in the tourism industry.”

 

Source: New Straits Times

Kiulu tourist arrivals up sharply

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).

 

Source: Borneo Post

Beautiful Sabah 3.0 contest attracts int’l participants

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board’s Beautiful Sabah 3.0 online photography and video contest, ended on October 8 and attracted participation from eleven countries through social media.

The countries were Australia, China, France, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Philippines, UK and Malaysia.

This is the third edition of the contest and has the most submissions from overseas.

A total of 800 photographs and 15 videos were submitted during the two-month online contest.

“The participation from most (of the) international countries is through the power of social media. Through social media, every post shared can lead to a site visit and eventually a conversion,” said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, chairman of Sabah Tourism Board at the prize presentation ceremony, yesterday.

Winners of the competition were presented with their prizes yesterday at Sabah Tourism Board by Joniston, who urged the participants to use their talents and skills to keep promoting Sabah through their lenses and video making skills.

Also present at the event were general manager of Sabah Tourism Board Gordon Yapp, deputy general manager (support services) Noredah Othman and communications manager Hana S. Harun

The top five winners of the photography competition were Tsen Lip Kai, Rustam Razali, Clement Liew, Tirado Jupirin and Mohd Erwin Mohd Ussdek, and the top five winners of the video competition were Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong, Leon Kuan, Danny Daniel Nguai, Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong and Ivan Ong Jian Hau.

The Beautiful Sabah 3.0 sponsorship, worth about RM15,000 were from the private sector, namely the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort,  Sutera Harbour Resort, Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu, Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Grandis Hotel and Resorts, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Techfix, Canon Marketing (Malaysia), Syarikat Percetakan Suria, Toppoint Company Sdn Bhd, Ebiz Design & Communications, and Videographics Productions Sdn Bhd.

 

Source: Borneo Post

‘Diving all year round in Sabah’

SEMPORNA: THE year-long “End in Sipadan” campaign organised by the Tourism and Culture Ministry will not only promote Sabah’s diving trails, but also its local dive operators, said the ministry’s state director, Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ campaign, held in collaboration with Sabah Backpackers Association, began in April and has reached its pinnacle here in Sipadan.

“Throughout the journey, we saw our local dive operators doing a great job not just for the tourism industry, but also for the conservation of our reefs,” he said during a press conference in conjunction with the closing of the campaign here recently.

He said dive operators in Mari Mari Sepanggar island here and Bum Bum Island in Semporna engaged with avid divers to build artificial reefs within respective house reefs.

“Before the campaign, the heaps of rubbish in Sepanggar island could reach an average man’s shoulder. But, dive operators have cleared the garbage and transformed the island into a diving centre.”

Ag Ahmad said dive operator Blue Fin Dive and Surf from Kudat built a community-based homestay, while ND Divers from Bum Bum island provided jobs opportunities to the locals.

As for Kudat-based Pirate Divers, its founder, Glen Hapirullah, sketched several hundred underwater maps in Malaysia, including 44 diving sites in Lahad Datu.

Ag Ahmad said diver Abdul Razak Ismail, 33, from Semporna, took underwater videos to promote the campaign, adding that one of his videos gained 14,000 views in three months.

The campaign, he said, had also helped 15 media personnel obtain diving licences to better promote the state’s diving trails.

Present at the press conference were the ministry’s Pahang director, Datuk Idrus Yahya, and Sabah Backpackers Association president Richie Lee.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ pro-gramme is the continuation of the ministry’s ‘Start in Tioman’ campaign in Pahang, which began in 2010 and offered diving course to media personnel,” said Idrus.

He said the programme in Tioman aimed to encourage people to take up diving.

“People will not only spend money on diving, but also on activities that we have created for them before they board a plane home.

“Besides that, the programme made people appreciate nature more because once the marine ecosystem is destroyed, divers will not be able to enjoy underwater activities anymore.”

Volunteer Datin Chan Goek Kooi, from Johor, said she fully supported the campaign in Bum Bum island and in Sipadan.

“As a dive operator, it is important for me to explore dive sites before promoting them to my clients.

 

Source: New Straits Times

Rejuvenating Kiulu nature trekking

KIULU: THE Kiulu district has come up with what is believed to be the first dedicated trekking trails spanning 45km from Tamparuli, here, to the hilly Pekan Nabalu.

It offers the “Riverside Lung Washing Trekking Trails”, which live up to its reputation as a destination for adventure enthusiasts.

The term “lung washing” has a scientific explanation associated with the act of taking a break in nature.

Such an experience, away from city life distractions, is said to boost the immune system and help rejuvenate the body.

Kiulu assemblyman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, who is the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman, launched the trails at Kampung Lubok, here, recently.

He said the trails passed through several villages.

Trekkers were recommended to spend three to four days there. They could start their journey from either Pekan Nabalu or the Tamparuli town, which is about an hour’s drive from Kota Ki-
nabalu. Guides will be assigned to help them and they can spend their nights in community-managed base camps or village homestays.

The routes were categorised from “easy” to “challenging” and trekkers could follow well-marked trails over undulating, small uphill sections.

“Trekkers would be able to explore the Borneo lowland forest, learn basic jungle survival skills from the natives, identify wild indigenous medicinal plants as well as edible plants, and they can experience the culture and hospitality of the local people and see unique species of flora and fauna in the Kiulu forest.

“Kiulu offers you an experience of a lifetime by taking you through one of the loveliest and untouched parts of Sabah,” said Joniston.

Kiulu Tourism Association (KTA) president Dr Edmon Guntis added that trekkers could also expect to cross numerous suspension bridges, rivers and tri-butaries.

“You can have local expert guides who can share their knowledge of the jungle, and at the same time, show you how to use the natural resources from the forest to your advantage
in order to survive,” said Dr Edmon.

The Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac) Sabah office director Awang Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar said the move to introduce the trekking trails was timely as the Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had described Kiulu as a model for rural tourism development in Ma-laysia.

A few years ago, Nazri visited Kiulu’s tourist attractions and had a first-hand experience of white-water rafting along the Kiulu river, as well as trying out Sabah’s longest zip line at Kampung Rangalau Lama.

Ahmad Zaki said locals would also benefit from this by giving the services required by trek-kers.

“Besides offering services as guides, villagers along the trekking trails could also offer homestay services or open up stalls offering authenic local delicacies and handicrafts, among others,” he said.

 

Source: New Straits Times