Dr Jeffrey (right) receiving a good bag from Patrisha

TAMBUNAN: Bamboo is aplenty in this valley town, which is the legacy of the British colonial period that ordered the locals to replant 20 bamboo sprouts for every bamboo cut.

The dense forests of bamboo in this interior district has saw the rise of bamboo factories and festivals but without much success due to lack of financial support.

Therefore, the tourism industry needs a holistic approach including to revive bamboo related activities as Tambunan, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan suggested.

“Now is the time to set up a bamboo plant and zen garden as a tourist attraction due to the growing population and increasing number of visitors,” he said during a meeting with Tambunan tourism operators and Tambunan Tourism Association (TATA) committee members headed by its president, Patrisha Philip recently at the District Office here.

Tambunan located 80 kilometres away from the state capital of Kota Kinabalu have great potential to be developed as popular touristic destination as TATA has identified many new products.

However, there are still many unexplored potentials to be tapped and since the country’s borders are temporarily closed for leisure travellers, the discussions with the federal government have been focused on domestic tourism.

During the meeting, Dr Jeffrey suggested a diversification of cultural products focusing the ‘way of life’ that can attract tourists from the peninsula and Sarawak.

The homestay programme operators were encouraged to promote agrotourism involving community development in collaboration with farmers, instead of competing with each other which hinder the access to larger markets.

On the issue regarding the trail of Trusmadi via the waterfalls, hill and Kampung Nandal areas, he said the proposed route has been raised in Parliament but faced challenges due to lack of basic infrastructure, furthermore the area is under the management of the Forestry Department.

Besides that, MOTAC has also identified the potential of Mount Trusmadi, Mount Alab, Mount Wakid, Mount Sinsing and Mount Koingaran where the routes have forest views compared to Mount Kinabalu which is only highlands.

However, he said it is very costly to build cable car unless it can attract foreign investors to come in.

In near future, the promotion of tourism will be done online as the digitalisation activities will open up opportunities for the people to indulge in videography to bring local cultures to the world, he said.

He also agreed with the proposal to build the ‘Welcome to Tambunan’ signage in Mount Wakid and encouraged the paragliding operator to work together with TATA and Ministry of Youth and Sports to identify the suitable take off spot.

He also announced that a cultural village will be built in Keningau on a 100-acre site as well as upgrade the Oath Stone monument. -HS

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