STB to work with universities to enhance rural tourism growth

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) is committed to working closely with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and other higher learning institutions to support the continued growth of the state’s rural tourism industry.

Assistant Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said STB and tourism players could benefit greatly from the university’s studies of rural tourism.

He also said STB could be of significant assistance to academicians in their studies to better grasp the topic at hand and identify collaborative solutions to the industry’s problems.

Joniston, who is also chairman of STB, was speaking at the Community Based Tourism Symposium (CBTS) 2022, themed ‘Rural Tourism Prosperity: Transforming the Well-Being of Local Communities’ at the Azman Hashim UMS Gallery here.

This symposium was co-organised by the varsity’s Borneo Tourism Research Centre (BTRC); Faculty of Business, Economics and Accountancy; and Sabah Tourism Board.

It was supported by the Federation of Rural Tourism Association Sabah and the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research (ATLAS Asia).

In this speech, Joniston also shared about STB’s pioneering efforts in community-based tourism through its project division and the subsequent success of this initiative since its inception in 2014.

He also called on stakeholders to continue playing their role to help position Sabah as the top sustainable and innovative rural tourism destination.

“Tourists today are more environmentally conscious and are looking for sustainable travel options. They would like to be part of the sustainability of the tourism sites.

“A vibrant public and private ecosystem that facilitates partnerships with stakeholders to grow their capabilities should be put in place.

“We want Sabah to be the best place to test bed for sustainable solutions, new tourism products and experiences, enabling businesses in rural tourism to gain from first-mover competitive advantage,” he said.

Meanwhile, UMS Vice Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Kasim Md. Mansor was pleased with the UMS-STB partnership to organise the CBTS event while describing it as a good example of University-Industry partnerships that would be developed further.

He also thanked ATLAS Asia for its support to ensure knowledge of the uniqueness of Sabah’s rural tourism reaches an international audience.

The CBTS 2022 drew 288 participants and was conducted via a hybrid mode with both on-site and online participants.

On-site attendees comprised tourism sector representatives, government agencies, students, and staff, whilst international delegates registered from Indonesia, China, Ireland, Portugal, Singapore, the Philippines and Spain.

Meanwhile, UMS introduced University College Sabah Foundation as a new ATLAS Asia member to join its network in over 50 countries.

The next CBTS in 2023 will take place in Tuaran and it will be conducted in Bahasa Malaysia.

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