Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Balancing act in Sabah’s tourism promotion


Malaysia and in particular, Sabah, have been promoted extensively as a tourism destination in this part of the world. There are contentions however that our tourism products have been hyped by the media to boost their marketing value.

New Sabah Times sought the opinion of Associate Professor Dr Ong Puay Liu, who is attached to the Institute of Ethnic Studies or KITA of the University Kebangsaan Malaysia recently.

Ong says, “I think each country and each place has its own beauty and something to offer. By ‘product’, you have put a commercial value to the destination, hence just as in commodities sold in the market, their saleable value depends on the demand, on what the customers want. Malaysia and especially Sabah, have much to offer to people who appreciate nature, culture, adventure, history. Sabah is a microcosm of what there is on Earth – you want mountains, there are mountains. Valleys, islands, forest, wildlife, flora, traditional cultures and mode of living-you have these all in Sabah. So I do not think the promotion of Sabah as a premier tourist destination is mere media or marketing hype.”

On another question, Ong shares that Malaysia and Sabah have tried all possible means to promote their attractions both online as well as through printed media.

“The federal and State Government also organise trade fairs and participate in expos and cultural demonstrations overseas, where natives of particular ethnic groups are invited to come along and demonstrate the uniqueness of their respective cultures. The private sector is also working together with the government and local communities. One good example is Borneo Eco Tours in Sabah. If you look at its website, it is very appealing not only in the packages offered but also in the company’s interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.”

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