Cultural Tourism Can Be Tool For Dialogue, Peace And Sustainable Devt

Amit Guntawoi performing the ‘momulangga’ ritual to bless the opening of the International Conference on Spirituality, Culture and Sustainable Tourism held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah today. – Photo credit BERNAMA

KOTA KINABALU: Cultural tourism has the potential to become a great tool for dialogue, peace and sustainable development.

Deputy Sabah Chief Minister, Joseph Pairin Kitingan said understanding the cultural heritage of the locals could help to address the incapacity of modern mankind in managing the environment that could be developed to boost the economy, especially in tourism.

“As we read the signs of our times, we cannot help but gaze into the imminent collapse of the environment, the looming global culture of fear and insecurity, the confusion of mind, and the irrelevance or misuse of knowledge, technologies and free will.

“Indigenous people worldwide are unified in their views that these plus the derangement of the human sense, the loss of meaning and purpose in life, and the dwindling capacities of the human and mother nature’s vital forces to heal themselves are because humans in modern times have lost their soul and spirit.”

PAIRIN KITINGAN

A Bernama report quoted Pairin saying this when opening the International Conference on Spirituality, Culture and Sustainable Tourism organised by the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA), here, Thursday.

Pairin, who is KDCA president, said tourism had become a social event of the modern world involving all countries and almost all societies, which helps the people to recognise the growth of cultural heritage prestige and its economic and social value in life of modern society.

However, he said, cultural heritage-related tourism in modern times was facing a paradox, in which on one side, cultural heritage, tangible or intangible, had never been threatened as it had been today.

While on the other side, cultural heritage continued to be undervalued and be the subject of much debate, he said.

“Two years ago, our sacred Mount Kinabalu was sacrilege [sic] by tourists who stripped naked at its summit, an area regarded by natives as a sacred temporary abode for departed relatives’ souls.

“Seven days later on June 5, 2015, a violent earthquake struck Mount Kinabalu, taking away many lives, besides bringing ecological disasters and life disruptions to the surrounding communities and halted tourism activities at the mountain,” he said.

Pairin hoped the conference would discuss the socio-spiritual and ecological impacts of tourists’ sacrilegious acts on sacred places.

Earlier, the opening ceremony of the conference began with a prayer ritual performed by a Kadazandusun priestess known as Bobolian to give thanks to the spirits of the venue in allowing the two-day conference to take place until Friday.

The priestess Amit Guntawoi, 80, from Kimanis, Papar, clad in traditional Kadazandusun costume, spent nearly an hour to complete the ritual, which was conducted in the Kadazandusun language.