Sabah Learns from Yogyakarta

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By Avila Geraldine

Yogyakarta, Feb 3: Taking cues from Yogyakarta’s award-winning Nglanggeran Tourism Village can help Sabah improve its own sustainable community-based tourism initiatives.
Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said that this is paramount as the state is planning to have more of its tourism players achieve international recognition as part of the process of transforming Sabah into a world-class rural destination.
“We should not limit ourselves to our own examples of success, but instead look to the achievements of others and draw ideas and motivation from them.

Joniston Bangkuai sharing successful story of community-based tourism with Nglanggeran Tourism Village manager Sugeng Handoko (3rd left) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Supplied.

“In this way, we will be able to raise the bar for rural tourism and make significant improvements.
“We want to see the high-end offering in our rural destination so we can lure quality tourists,” he said after touring the Nglanggeran Tourism Village on Friday.
Bangkuai was in Yogyakarta along with the Sabah Tourism team for the ASEAN Tourism Forum and to visit several attractions for products update.
Also present were Sabah Tourism Board deputy chief executive officer Julinus Jimit and Federation of Rural Tourism Association Sabah (FeRTAS) President Walter Kandayon, who is also a Board member of Sabah Tourism.
Bangkuai also said Sabah rural tourism players could learn from Nglanggeran village’s effective marketing of itself as a unique and authentic tourism destination that draws visitors from around the world.
“I have informed the FeRTAS to get in touch with the Nglanggeran Tourism Village committee with the hope that we can make future engagements in Sabah,” he added.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has named Nglanggeran Tourism Village the World’s Best Tourism Village 2021.
It had also won the 2017 ASEAN Community Based Tourism (CBT) Award.
Located within the Gunung Sewu Geopark, Nglanggeran offers a variety of tourism activities and services, such as cultural tours, homestays, and outdoor recreation, appealing to a wide range of tourists.
Bangkuai added that Sabah could also learn from the local experts here regarding how to manage geoparks and apply them to its own Kinabalu National Geopark, which covers the districts of Ranau, Kota Belud, and Kota Marudu.
During the visit, Nglanggeran Tourism Village manager Sugeng Handoko shared with the Sabah Tourism delegates that the village’s efforts to promote community-based tourism bring in approximately RM2 million each year. 
Following their tourism success, the village had to limit the number of visitors from 14,000 to 8,000 visitors a month in order to focus on attracting quality tourists and ensuring sustainability.
Sugeng added that they are more than willing to share their experience and at the same learn more about the unique offerings in Sabah through engagement with Sabah’s community-based tourism players.

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