Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sarawak rural tourism business to narrow income gap

KUCHING: Tourism can narrow the income disparity gap between rural and urban communities, says Deputy Minister of Sarawak Tourism Datuk Dr James Dawos.

Met during a meet-the-people session at Kpg Jambu near here yesterday, he said cultural and eco-tourism involving mountain trekking and homestay which involves bed-and-breakfast type accommodation could help raise the income of the operators, not to mention the many job opportunities available to local people.

He said tourism was one of the fastest growing industries in developing countries like Malaysia, which had mountains and jungle for jungle trekking and people of diverse background who are culturally rich.

“Sarawak is blessed in that its population is made up of people of various races who practise different religions yet are able to mix freely with each other. Sarawak is also home to flora and fauna not found elsewhere. Its mountains offer scenic beauty making them prime tourist destinations.”

Quoting Unesco researchers, he said community-based tourism which was driven by homestay programme, the operators could easily generate income of not less than RM2,000 a month. As such, he recommended that bio-tourism activities be included in the (homestay) programme.

Bio-tourism can include visits to farms and gardens where tourists can involve themselves in the traditional farming practices while the homestay operators can bring tourists to natural attractions in their areas or engage them in river cruises, kayaking, rafting or fishing.”

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