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Wildlife Dept considering relocating Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to Penampang

20th June, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is looking into the possibility of relocating the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to Penampang if sufficient land in the district can be found, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun disclosed recently.

“In terms of tourism, this is our contribution to Penampang but the people there have to be receptive to the idea and the leaders there must come and tell us how to make it happen,” said Masidi as the ministry wants to create a tourism product for Penampang to enable them to benefit from the booming tourism industry in suburban Kota Kinabalu.

Presently, the wildlife park is located along the old Penampang-Papar road. “Penampang also has some good land and good paddy field scenery with potential as tourism attractions,” said Masidi during the Sabah Association of Tour & Travel Agents (SATTA) bi-annual dinner cum launching of the inaugural SATTA Almanac 2016 at a hotel on Saturday.

He said Kinabatangan, Kota Belud and Klias have become popular destinations for Europeans and Chinese tourists because the natural beauty has been preserved, unlike Penampang which needs better land development planning.

He said he had discussed the matter with the Penampang District Officer because the irresponsible hill cutting in the district garnered highest number of complaints; an eyesore for visitors.

“I am not criticising the people there, I am just reminding myself and all of you that we need to have planning that serves the future needs of our State. We cannot just take everything now and leave nothing for the future, if one is serious about leaving a better industry for our future generation, I think we need to invest starting now,” said Masidi.

“I would like to apologise for my comments on why the visitors don’t go the Penampang simply because most of the beautiful paddy fields have vanished, now converted into housing estates.

“We don’t realise it, the humble paddy field is actually a very good attraction for visitors. Just look at Bali, there is something that we can learn from there,” said Masidi.

Masidi said Bali became a big attraction to tourists because they have preserved their traditional way of life and they are also very creative; building restaurants in the middle of their paddy fields and specialising in roast duck which they catch fresh from the fields before preparing it for visitors.

“I hope that the people of Penampang do not construe my statement as insulting but in all honesty, I am with you because you are in the best position to attract tourists as the district is located just 20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu,” said Masidi.

He went on to suggest that perhaps Penampang build a five-star hotel right in the middle of the greenery of the paddy fields as a means to attract tourists.

On complaints of visitors harassing or destroying marine life during their holiday in Sabah, especially when they brazenly pluck flora or fauna from the sea to take photos with, Masidi assured that his ministry will do their best in terms of enforcement.

For starters, he urged SATTA to inform all their members to educate their clients or visitors the dos and don’ts when they visit the marine parks or go scuba diving.

“Briefings, or leaflets can be distributed to all visitors upon arrival at the airport,” he suggested. And to ensure the sustainability of the state’s tourism industry, he said the way forward was to take care of nature and he urged SATTA members to take up this call seriously and make it agenda in their discussions when charting the future of the industry.

He assured that the ministry will continue to work as a team together with industry players to ensure the tourism industry continues to thrive into next 3 decades.

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