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Sandakan holds untapped potential for sustainable community-based tourism

Tanjung Aru Sandakan

Joniston

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said Sandakan has immense potential to harness the strength of its local communities to create sustainable tourism opportunities.

The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman also highlighted the importance of empowering village folk and diversifying tourism offerings beyond nature community-based tourism.

Jonison, who is also Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, said: “The potential for community-based tourism development in Sandakan, particularly Pulau Tanjung Aru, with its pristine beaches and close proximity to historical sites, could serve as a pilot project for community-based tourism in the district.”

He also highlighted the importance of empowering village folk and diversifying tourism offerings beyond nature and wildlife tourism.

Joniston was speaking during a meeting with Sandakan MP Vivian Wong and Sandakan Tourism Association president Teo Chee Kim at the STB office, here.

The meeting, attended by STB deputy chief executive officer Julinus Jimit, provided an opportunity for Wong to seek advice from Joniston, on attracting more tourists to Sandakan.

She also highlighted Pulau Tanjung Aru as a potential island to be transformed into a new attraction and briefed the Assistant Minister on initiatives she has undertaken to help empower the islanders.

Joniston said this initiative would diversify the region’s tourism products and offer visitors a wider range of experiences.

He further amplified the importance of the STB’s involvement in initiating engagement between successful community-based tourism operators and Sandakan villagers.

“Community-based tourism has proven to be a successful model in Sabah and various parts of the world for promoting rural areas, empowering local communities and preserving cultural heritage while offering unique experiences to tourists.

“Sabah Tourism Board plays a crucial role in connecting the dots and facilitating partnerships,” he said.

Joniston added that by fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing, they can create a supportive environment for developing community-based tourism ventures in Sandakan.

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