STB Chairman Advocates Rural Community Tourism At Unwto Plenary Session
SAMARKAND: Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai has put forward a proposal to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on the importance of emphasising rural community tourism during the 44th UNWTO Affiliate Members Plenary Session.
Speaking at the Plenary Session here on Monday (Oct. 16), he stressed the necessity of encompassing all community segments in global tourism discussions and development.
“I propose placing a particular emphasis on rural community tourism to ensure inclusion of all community segments, particularly in developing countries, in UNWTO’s tourism development and promotion agendas,” Joniston stated.
“In Sabah, Malaysia, we have been vigorously advocating for rural tourism as a means of empowering rural communities to benefit from tourism, not just urban areas.”
He added: “This approach serves as, not just, an alternative income source for the rural population and a catalyst for fostering cooperation within these communities to develop tourism within their area, but also generate awareness on the need to protect the environment.”
Joniston led a delegation of STB board members and management staff to the 25th UNWTO General Assembly in Samarkand, a city in southeastern Uzbekistan. The Plenary Session was officiated by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and presided by Affiliate Members chairperson Mar de Miguel.
It is the top governing body for Affiliate Members, providing a robust framework to debate on the state of affiliate membership, analyse UNWTO’s Programme of Work, and share ideas for future projects.
During this session, Joniston highlighted that Sabah is one of three destinations worldwide to boast a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) triple crown site.
This status was conferred following the declaration of Kinabalu National Geopark as The Kinabalu UNESCO Global Geopark on May 24, this year. Kinabalu Park holds two additional UNESCO “crowns”: World Heritage Site (declared on December 2, 2000) and UNESCO Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve (proclaimed on June 12, 2014).
Other locations with this prestigious UNESCO triple crown status are Jeju Island in Korea and Shennongjia in China. “This UN recognition is significant, and I believe UNWTO should intervene to explore how it can support us.
“It’s a recognition we should capitalise on to promote tourism on a global scale,” Joniston concluded.