KINABATANGAN: Sabah Rural Development Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick has proposed that a Rural Tourism Road category be created to facilitate the government’s efforts to provide special allocations for road maintenance or upgrade.
He said that this category was important because most of the roads connecting tourist centres run by rural communities could not be maintained due to the lack of a specific allocation.
“We have other categories of roads such as farm roads and village roads, but there is no category of rural tourism road.
“So we suggest that a new category called Rural Tourism Road be created so that roads that require upgrading allocation can be submitted to the state or federal government in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP),” he said in a statement here Monday.
Ewon said the proposal was in line with the decision of the state cabinet meeting earlier this year to set up a Rural Tourism Committee, jointly chaired by him and Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew, to monitor and intensify efforts to develop the rural tourism sector in an integrated manner.
“I have chaired the meeting to discuss the terms of reference and the main focus of the committee.
“Among the main focus is to create a state government policy on rural tourism, the issue of rural tourism activities in forested, island and coastal areas as well as the need to upgrade access roads to community tourism centres,” he said.
Ewon also said that the efforts by the Kinabatangan Mukim Batu Puteh Tourism Cooperative (KOPEL Bhd) with the cooperation of the Sabah Forestry Department to develop areas around the village to become the source of income through tourism activities should be emulated.
He said some districts such as Nabawan and Keningau, which were adjacent to forest reserves had the potential to be developed as rural tourism centres, but the effort could not be realised due to certain policies.
“KOPEL Bhd can be the benchmark for community-based rural tourism where they managed to earn RM2.4 million in revenue last year with the arrival of 7,000 tourists.
“Tourism activities in the district also opened up various job opportunities to 128 villagers,” he said.