KOTA BELUD: Despite the slowdown in tourism industry and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Kampung Melangkap Tiong community in Kadamaian remains committed to ensuring their eco-tourism areas are always well-kept to welcome future visitors.
At the Kisakot Eco-Tourism, a community-based tourism product, villagers worked together to build several rest huts to improve the existing infrastructure facilities.
Kadamaian Tourism Association chairman Walter Kandayon said Kisakot Eco-Tourism was among over 80 rural tourism operators in Kadamaian, who had successfully obtained approval for a RM20,000 grant application under the Sabah New Deal.
Established in May 2019, the rural community tourism area located by the river only had an existing mini hall and four huts.
“However, when the pandemic hit and the Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed, the community lost their livelihood, and their ‘tabung’ (funds) were also empty.
“The community had no money to maintain the facilities. When tourism activities reopen, we help them to get the necessary assistance while the community themselves ‘gotong-royong’ to upgrade their eco-tourism site,” said Kandayon.
He said the Sabah New Deal grant has helped the community and private tourism operators in Kadamaian to cover the expenses used for facility improvement works.
Recently, state Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai visited Kampung Melangkap Tiong to see the progress of upgrading works.
He also met with two Sabah New Deal grant applicants – Kisakot Eco-Tourism chairperson Doihim Salantik and Bukit Pagapanan Nobou eco-tourism operator Domius @ Damius Talindap.
In May last year, Talindap took risks developing a recreational fishing activity site when many tourism operators were experiencing business gloom following the impact of pandemic and the imposition of MCO.
Starting with just a basic landscaping of fishing ponds, Bukit Pagapanan Nobou is now equipped with pedestrian facilities, huts, public toilets, and running water.
“The inspiration to establish an eco-tourism came when, at that time, I was feeling bored as there were no activities. Instead of wasting time, I thought to myself why not spend the time building my own tourism site.
“I know many people are into fishing. With the help of a machine, I had forked out my own money and constructed six large ponds on my 6-acre land.
“Although the pandemic situation and the tourism industry at that time was uncertain, I still took risks. If we want something, we have to be brave to do it no matter what the situation. Otherwise, it will remain a dream,” he said.
Since opening its door to the public, Bukit Pagapanan Nobou has received about 60 visitors thus far.
Meanwhile, Bangkuai said the Sabah New Deal was a special financial assistance from the state government which was also provided to tourism industry players affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Sabah New Deal grant assistance for tourism operators is coordinated by STB
“STB actively helps rural tourism operators to improve their areas to promote the potential of rural tourism products.
“I call on entrepreneurs to continue to take the opportunity to get any assistance provided by the State Government that can help to develop their products,” said Bangkuai.
During the visit, he also visited Melangkap Tiong community-based eco-tourism product.
Established in 2014, Melangkap Tiong did not receive visitors for two years due to lack of facilities until 2017 when the community received assistance from STB to promote their site.
Melangkap Tiong has now become one of the rural tourism destinations in Kota Belud district for those seeking for spa fish and swimming activities.