Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tourism and fisheries set to change Pitas’ landscape

The Pitas district in Sabah is set to witness the transformation of its economic landscape and commercial activities through the integrated development of the tourism and fisheries sector.

The transformation is set to open more employment opportunities for the locals.

Pitas’ strategic location, lying in between Teluk Marudu and the open waters of Kudat, known for its marine resources and pristine nature, can be optimised for tourism activities.

Pitas’ local council member Rudy Awah noted that Pitas’ resources should be exploited in an integrated manner by the relevant agencies for developing the district.

The move to develop both sectors is important for improving the socio-economic status of the locals, who survive on subsistence farming and fishing.

“The beautiful beaches, when complemented by good infrastructure, can help woo tourists to the district and open up economic opportunities for the locals,” he said to Bernama after the 2012 Pitas Local Councilors oath-taking ceremony in Labuan recently.

“The same with the fisheries sector, many efforts can be made to develop the sector, including turning the district into a deep sea fishing hub along with marine resources-based downstream activities,” he added.

Rudy noted that many of the local and foreign tourists see Kudat as their destination and therefore, leisure activities in nearby Tanjung Simpang Mengayau in the Pitas district should be exploited.

“If the appropriate facilities and necessities are established, they will not only provide comfort for the visitors, but will make the place more interesting,” he said.

Rudy also mentioned the improving road networking system, especially the roads connecting Pitas to nearby districts.

“Previously, Pitas was known to be among the backwater districts, which depended on marine resources and agriculture, with the locals migrating to bigger towns to improve their livelihood. But not anymore.”

“Today, Pitas, located to the north of Sabah, near Kudat, with a population of almost 40,000 people, can be proud of the infrastructure development there,” he said.

The main ethnic groups in the district are made up of the Rungus and Sungai (including Tambanuo) people. Pitas was initially known as Tupak that literally means “crossing” in the local language. Tupak refers to the ancient homeland of the Momogun Tombonuvo and Momogun Rungus ethnic groups.

With an established township, complete with primary and secondary schools and downstream agriculture and fisheries activities, Pitas could compete with the other districts, when promoted strategically.

Rudy recalled that Pitas was once categorised among the poorest districts in Malaysia but is now fast developing like many other districts in the state.

Meanwhile, Pitas state assemblyman Datuk Bolkiah Haji Ismail noted that Pitas has been endowed with numerous natural resources that are yet to be exploited.

Bolkiah, who is also Sabah’s Assistant Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment, pointed out that the traditional activities and items of the locals could be utilised for tourism.

One of the items unique to the locals and which can be used to lure tourists is the Bagang, a traditional platform built on the sea to catch anchovies and it is widely used in Teluk Marudu in Pitas.

“We can take visitors to have a closer look at how the locals fish with Bagang,” he said.

Apart from this, Teluk Marudu is a safe fishing haven as the water is sheltered and calm.