Sabah aims to become a premier durian destination

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah hopes to become one of the durian tourism spots in Malaysia to help farmers and entrepreneurs boost their economy.

Sabah Durian and Tropical Fruit Planters Association (MaSDA) have expressed hope that Sabah will be included in the 2024 durian tourism packages by Tourism Malaysia.

To date, the durian packages were highlighted in various destinations in Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Pahang, and Johor.

MaSDA president Duane Evans said Sabah's durian remained hidden due to a lack of promotion.

"To make us visible, we organised the Durian and Coffee Festival in Keningau last year to raise awareness and attract visitors," said Duane.

Following the success of the festival, which saw about 5,000 to 6,000 visitors including foreign tourists, MaSDA has invited Tourism Malaysia to explore the durian farms in Keningau, Tenom, Papar, and Tamparuli.

Its director of package development Mohd Roslan Abdullah and his team conducted the inspection.

They inspected Bukit Durian in Kampung Ponindukan, which offers a stunning view of Keningau, he said.

The Durian Valley, managed by Tracey Liew, offers picturesque views of the durian orchard and other tropical fruits, he said.

In Tenom, the Baxter Farm owned by Gerald Baxter boasts a modern agricultural concept.

He said that the main durian varieties include Musang King and Black Thorn, in addition to a collection of Borneo's durian species and indigenous fruits, offering visitors an educational experience on tropical fruits.

The team also visited the Tenom Tropical Fruits Farm which belongs to Victor Lim, who in recent years diversified his fruit plantation, including the latest addition of durians.

The Sugar Hill Farm in Papar offers a traditional lifestyle experience, combining a fruit orchard with a farmhouse, he said.

The Tamparuli Durian Farm at Kampung Ruhiang is a hilly terrain farm requiring visitors to hike to witness the breathtaking Mount Kinabalu.

"We hope that Tourism Malaysia will launch the durian packages in Sabah, so that we can showcase the state's uniqueness," said Duane.

Tourism Malaysia Sabah deputy director Trecey J Tojuka stated that the familiarisation trip demonstrates strong synergy among MaSDA, Tourism Malaysia, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Sabah Chapter, the Sabah Tourist Guide Association, and the Sabah Tourism Board in promoting Sabah as the next prominent durian tourism destination in Malaysia.

"Establishing partnerships with local tour operators and other tourism organisations enhances the development of specialised agrotourism packages, contributing to attracting tourists to Sabah both locally and globally," she said.

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