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Borneo package will work: Masidi

Published on: Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said it is more effective for territories in Borneo to market themselves wholly rather than individually.

"In tourism, for instance, I think now we need to work as a region. Gone are the days where a country may want to market on its own. "But in our case, in this part of the world, I think we may want to portray ourselves as from Borneo. The best and most effective marketing tool for us is the word 'Borneo' and this word consists of three countries Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia.

Masidi said this at the Trans-Borneo 2014 participants appreciation dinner hosted by the Ministry on Sunday at the Ming Garden Hotel. He was commenting on the 14 day Trans-Borneo expedition with participants from Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia which began in Pontianak and ended in Tawau.

"What is significant to me is the three countries can work together. This is important because it will make our policy makers ponder and think of other avenues of cooperation between the respective governments.

"In fact we have already started in my own capacity as the tourism minister of Sabah, we have been actively working with Brunei through Royal Brunei and marketing both Brunei and Sabah. I want to tell you the results have been magnificent.

"Not only have we been able to market the two regions effectively, the dividends have been far better than if you want to do it yourself."

Masidi said in the tourism industry one cannot make the assumption that it is all only for oneself.

"We have to see it in a wider scope and convince ourselves that if we together market tourism wise each participant will receive the returns. These returns are important because they are continuous returns.

"What I am suggesting is perhaps if we can put up a package, some days they (visitors) will stay in Sabah, some days in Brunei or Sarawak and finish in Kalimantan.

"Yes, they will spend shorter days in each destination but obviously they will come again because then the tourists will realise that these places have more to offer them with more tourist products for them to partake and that is important to lure them back in the future.

"We have more than enough tourism attractions that are not found anywhere else.

God has given us everything for free. All we need to do is look after them and create facilities to allow access to these tourism products."

He said if looked after well, the tourism industry will receive the returns from these God given gifts.

"We also have the most variety of birds in a single region. There are 668 species of birds in Borneo. In Sabah alone 24 species are endemic to the State and 14 are endemic to Mt Kinabalu.

"The world bird watching industry is worth a few billion USD each year.

A conservative estimate of the turnover from bird watching worldwide is USD2-3 billion.

In the UK the are 800,000 members of the British Bird Watching Society.

"Imagine if we can get just 10 per cent of these British birdwatchers to Borneo to see our birds. If one person just spends RM5,000. Eighty thousand multiplied by RM5,000, that is the potential of bird watching in Borneo.

"So, we need to look beyond the normal things in tourism, sometimes we have to see what God has given us but we are not fully utilising it to generate income for the country.

For me nature is the best tourism product that cannot be replicated here or in other countries.

"Perhaps there is something that can be learnt from Sabah. In the past, the State Government earned two billion ringgit from timber but 12 years ago the State Government cancelled or shortened the logging licences.

Many were upset due to the sudden drop in revenue from timber.

"Last year our timber revenue was hardly RM100 million but last year the tourism receipts reached RM6.3 billion in the State. So what we lost in logging revenue we gained from tourism. The tourists are coming to the State because Sabah still has some of the best forests and rivers.

"The best capital generator of revenue is something God has given to us for free.

We all here have a role to play in educating the public about our rich natural environment.

"The State Government will give its full support to events such as this in the future and I fully support the earlier suggestion that perhaps the Government should relook how we can make the people not only travel better but perhaps to improve the various facilities such as roads so we can fully realise our true potential as the people of Borneo."