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Kiulu could be next adventure tourism destination

22nd March, 2016

By PAUL MU Paul@newsabahtimes.com.my

KIULU: “If adventure is your passion then Kiulu is definitely your destination” is the new tagline to promote tourism in this picturesque hinterland just an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu.

Coined by Kiulu Assemblyman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is now mulling with the idea to adopt it for promoting adventure tourism.

The ministry’s secretary-general, Tan Sri Dr Ong Hong Peng visited the area last weekend and was so impressed with the concept that he delayed his return flight to Kuala Lumpur.

“He was supposed to fly back to Kuala Lumpur at 2.30pm but he changed his mind after learning you all were here and this is something we will always appreciate,” said Joniston when addressing participants of the Earth Hour & Kiulu Adventure Voluntourism Programme.

The event was organised by the Sabah Backpackers Operators Association (SBA) and Almacrest Students Backpackers Club (ASBC).

“Kiulu is basically a rural area and we are promoting this place as a model for rural tourism to create a viable alternative source of income for rural folks who rely on agriculture to make a living,” said Joniston, a native of Kiulu. “We have such a beautiful place and unspoilt environment so we should capitalise on this to get visitors to come and stay here and in this way, we help to improve the economy of the rural folks,” he added.

Joniston who is also the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman believed that Dr Ong’s presence would go a long way towards promoting Kiulu as an adventure destination.

He also called on the students taking part in the programme to publicise the attractions in Kiulu through the social media, saying their role in voluntourism was to promote Sabah not only domestically but also internationally. Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dato’Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz had also visited Kiulu on February 14, this year.

“He chose to visit Kiulu on Valentine’s Day and that meant a lot to us. Today Tan Sri (Ong) is here, so we believe this is an endorsement from the federal government of the tourism potential we have in Kiulu,” said Joniston.

One of feature that appealed to Nazri was there were many suspension bridges in Kiulu because of a number of river tributaries.

“The general manager of the Malaysian Book of Records will be coming down here this week to see if we indeed have the most number of suspension bridges in Malaysia, which is nearly 300,” said Joniston.

“Hopefully we can get the recognition because it will further boost our efforts to market this place as a tourist destination,” he added.

Efforts are also being made to promote Kiulu through adventure race competitions.

With the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s Sabah Office and TMS, the first Kiulu Adventure Race was held last year attracting some 700 people to take part in running, cycling and rafting.

“We need your support to popularise and promote the race so help us and tell your friends about this challenge,” said Joniston to the students.

He also hoped more schools and institutions of higher learning will emulate Almacrest International College by setting up a backpackers’ club to encourage youngsters to contribute to the tourism industry in Sabah and Malaysia in general.

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