Sabah tourism and academics can chart new grounds

KOTA KINABALU: Academics and tourism industry players can learn as well as benefit from each other in their pursuit of progress in Sabah.

Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said studies on tourism by academics can help the industry grow and at the same time, input from tourism players can provide a better grasp of things on the ground.

"Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has always worked closely with the higher learning institutions.

"STB is committed to working closely with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), particularly in rural tourism," he said, adding that the university in the past has helped come up with solutions for problems faced by the industry.

Joniston, who is also chairman of STB, said this during 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.

The symposium was co-organised by the UMS Borneo Tourism Research Centre, Faculty of Business, Economics and Accountancy, and STB.

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

Joniston revealed that STB had achieved success through its pioneering efforts in community-based tourism since its inception in 2014 and called on stakeholders to continue playing their roles 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 want 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.

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. Meanwhile, the international delegates were from Indonesia, China, Ireland, Portugal, Singapore, the Philippines and Spain.

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