KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has set up a special Cabinet committee to monitor and double up initiatives to develop the state’s rural tourism sector in an integrated manner.
The special committee is chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew (pix), who is also the State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister, and assisted by Rural Development Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick.
Ewon, who chaired the committee’s first meeting yesterday, said it had agreed to create a policy to regulate rural tourism operators and activities, be it in the forest, island, and coastlines, as well as to upgrade roads to rural tourism destinations.
“The committee also agreed on the need for existing promotional programmes, marketing, and rural tourism product development to be empowered. The state government needs to introduce a specific policy for rural tourism that encompasses the issuance of licence and the compliance with safety aspects and development plan.
“This policy must be accompanied by a process that facilitates the community or entrepreneurs in developing tourism potential in their respective areas,” he said in a statement here today.
In addition, Ewon said the committee would also give its inputs for the preparation of the government’s budget mainly in the 12th Malaysia Plan pertaining to basic infrastructure development requirements which include upgrading roads to rural tourism destinations, which are seen as the key catalyst for the sector.
The committee also proposed for such roads to be categorised as Rural Tourism Road so that a special allocation can be provided, he said, adding this matter had already been discussed with Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun.
Ewon said he really hoped that the special committee would be able to provide a concerted effort in strengthening the development of Sabah’s rural tourism sector. — Bernama