KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry has encouraged ethnic associations on the state's east coast to develop their respective cultures and customs to become tourism products.
Its minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin, said it was crucial for the associations to strengthen their traditions so that they would not be swallowed up by the tide of modernisation.
The preservation of Sabah's cultural heritage could also contribute to the economy of local communities, he said.
The ministry was ready to work with the ethnic associations to jointly develop their rich cultural heritage so that it could be showcased to visitors, he said after attending an engagement session with cultural associations in Tawau and Lahad Datu.
"The Sabah Cultural Board will take the initiative to save culturally rich ethnic groups that are facing extinction so that they can be highlighted as heritage-based tourism products," he said.
The ministry, he said, wanted to organise a state-level Ethnic Day to celebrate Sabah's diversity to empower tourism products.
He also announced the construction of a cultural hall-cum-gallery in Lahad Datu.
About 30 ethnic associations were present in the engagement session, including Cocos Sabah Association, Banjar Tawau Association, Idaan Segama Cultural Arts Association and Sabah Tidung Community Association.