Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tourism complements conservation in Ranau ‘fish spa’ village

SUSTAINABLE environmental management and tourism complement each other at Kampung Luanti Baru, a village in Ranau.

The Fish Spa Experience, promoted as a tourism product through the Tagal system, ensures that while the environment and marine life are kept intact, the villagers are benefiting from promoting the environment through tourism.

Sited 130km — about two and half hours’ drive — from Kota Kinabalu, this village is tranquil, peaceful and rather sleepy just like any other hamlets in Sabah with a river winding through it.

The 300-strong inhabitants of Kadazandusun descent are, however, awakening to the presence of the international community which  promotes a fish spa at their river that is teeming with fish.

A spokesperson for the setup, Jeffrin Majangki, said the fish spa was mooted several years ago when Tagal system was started.

The fish then began to multiply due to the system which actually means no fishing and is aimed at conserving the environment and ecosystem to benefit future generations.

Due to regulated fishing and use of the resources in the river and along its banks, the Ikan Pelian grew in size and bred, populating the water.

As the villagers use the river for bathing, they found that the fish actually nibbled at their legs for dead skin.

Thus came fish spa, and the Moroli River of Kampung Luanti, now widely known for its Fish Spa experience.

“We receive about 1,000 to 1,200 visitors a month. They all want to experience the fish spa or look at our fish,” Jeffrin said.

These friendly docile masseurs are actually the main reason for the tourist arrivals in the village. The tourists only want to enjoy the River Fish Spa Experience — so it seems they complement each other.

As soon as visitors dip their feet in the water, the fish rush forward and frolic with them fearlessly and in the process, they start their massage by sucking off dead skins and scabs from their customers’ exposed limbs.

It is believed the fish massage helps suffering from psoriasis as they are only attracted to dead and unhealthy skin.

“Of course, the fish spa is our star attraction but we also have various other sights and sites to offer to our tourists,” Jeffrin said, adding that a river trek is always recommended to those wishing to enjoy Nature along the meandering river.