The people must be aware of the existence of government
projects which are meant to raise their socio-economic status,
said Keningau MP Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
He said for instance,
those who were living near tourist spots were enjoying the
benefits from activities carried out by the government.
“This is the
best way to improve the economy of an area and to provide
opportunities for those keen to venture into the tourism
industry,” he said when opening the Mahua Visitor and Research
Centre at the Crocker Range, 18 km from Tambunan town Friday.
Pairin also hoped
that more scientists and environmental experts would continue
to conduct research at the centre to help in the Crocker
Range’s preservation and development of tourism.
He added that
the existing infrastructure and facilities like roads and
car park should be upgraded to attract more tourists to
Chief Advisor of the Borneo Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation
programme (BBEC) Takahisa Kusano said the programme was
a joint effort between the Japanese and Malaysian government
for a five-year period from 2002 until 2007.
of the centre is funded by the Japanese International Cooperation
Agency (JICA) through the BBEC programme.
JICA had contributed some RM6 million for research equipment,
computers, vehicles, among others for the centre project.
Among those present
were Sabah Parks Director Datuk Lamri Ali, State Attorney
General Bazain Idris, Keningau District Officer Michael
Emban and Tambunan District Officer Steven Beliku.
farmers here have been told to venture into more lucrative
ventures such as eco-tourism as a substitute for the traditional
practice of shifting cultivation.
Pairin, who is
the assemblyman for Tambunan, said the age-old practice
would no longer be viable in the near future due to decreasing
“As the population
grows, there will be less space to do shifting cultivation
like planting hill padi. When this happens we must seek
an alternative to sustain our livelihood,” he said.
said was an appropriate choice because it was closely related
to the environment.
Setting up the
visitors centre was one such example that contributed towards
eco-tourism because it allowed the locals to act as agents,
tourist guides and souvenir shop operators to cater for
residents in the nearby villages of Patau, Narayat, Katagayan
and Mahua to seize opportunities available from eco-tourism.
He said one way
was to offer homestay to tourists in their villages so that
many would come to visit the area.