Friday, December 12, 2014

Sabah's beautiful nature drawing outsiders

KOTA KINABALU: People from outside the country continue to be very interested to visit Sabah because of nature which is generally still untouched and not much different from some years ago.

This thus shows how important it is for Sabah to conserve its beautiful nature and natural biodiversity, the eco-tourism products, while developing further the State's tourism industry, said Deputy Head of Sustainable Tourism Research Cluster of the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Penang, Dr Azizan Marzuki.

"We need to continue developing Sabah's tourism products. But it is important that, while we develop further the State's tourism industry, we do not harm the natural environment," he told reporters when met at a welcoming dinner hosted by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun for the delegates of the Fourth International Conference on Tourism Research (4ICTR) at the Pacific Sutera, here, Wednesday.

Dr Azizan said that was among some findings of research works which they are doing and concentrated at the Mount Kinabalu and Kinabatangan areas.

"In Mount Kinabalu areas, our studies are focused on eco-tourism, the physical perception and assessment on some tourism products…we do some inventories on the quality of tourism products, gather the perception or opinions from visitors whether they like or not the tourism products, and so on," he said.

Commending Sabah Parks for a job well done in preserving and maintaining the forest reserves under their care, he said a study is also being done at one of the homestays near the mountain which attracts many international tourists because it is surrounded by real jungle of Borneo and that the visitors have an opportunity to learn about the local people, their culture and heritage during their stay there, which is something hard to find nowadays not only in Malaysia but also in Southeast Asia.

Their research in Kinabatangan area is focused on how the tourism industry can help the local citizens in terms of bringing improvement to their economic status and employment, said Dr Azizan, who sees Kinabatangan as another potential main tourist destination in Sabah.