European Travel Association Praises Sabah’s Community-Driven Tourism Model At ITB Berlin

European Travel Association Praises Sabah’s Community-Driven Tourism Model At ITB Berlin

BERLIN: Sabah’s aggressive efforts to promote community-driven tourism in rural areas have earned praise from the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA). ECTAA Secretary-General (European Union) Erik Dresin said such an initiative is commendable because of the emphasis given to sustainability in its implementation.

He was speaking at a “Sustainability Exchange” session organised by the Malaysian Travel and Tours Association (MATTA) on the sideline of the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel tradeshows, here.

“Environmental protection is imperative, including in the rural areas, to ensure sustainability in tourism,” Dresin said.

Dresin was responding to a sharing by Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai and its Chief Executive Officer Julinus Jeffrey Jimit on the development of community-based (CoBT) tourism in the rural areas of Sabah at the session.

Joniston told the session that Sabah’s CoBT initiative has raised greater awareness among the rural folks on the need to protect and conserve the environment to ensure sustainable tourism. “Sabah’s CoBT is not just about a community coming together to develop rural tourism as a source of income but it has also generated awareness on preserving nature,” he said.

Joniston, who is also Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, called on ECTAA to support Sabah’s CoBT by promoting it among its members. Julinus, in his presentation, said Sabah’s aggressive development of CoBT was in response to the growing popularity of nature-based tourism.

“We invite international visitors to come to Sabah to indulge in the beauty of nature in a rural setting and experience our diverse culture and tradition,” he said. MATTA President Nigel Wong, who moderated the session, said a truly sustainable and responsible tourism should make destinations better for people to live in as well as to visit.

Also present at the session was ECTAA President Frank Oostdam.


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