Sabah looks beyond nature attractions to multicultural society as tourist draw

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, March 20 — Sabah wants to be known not just for its stunning landscapes, but also for its harmonious multi-religious society, said Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

Joniston said that one of Sabah’s unique selling points was its diverse population consisting of over 40 ethnic groups.

“Sabah’s multicultural population has proven adept at overcoming religious and cultural barriers to unity. The locals’ friendly nature and peaceful existence have become an important selling point.

“Religious and racial extremism has no place in Sabah and cannot be tolerated here,” he said.

He said in Sabah, the harmonious coexistence was evident from the proximity of its places of worship.

For example, the State Mosque, Sacred Heart Church, the Sikh Gurduwala, and the Peak Nam Tung Buddhist temple in the state capital, are all located within a 6km radius of each other, he said.

To promote its multi religious society, he said the Sabah Tourism Board is looking into introducing a “harmony walk or harmony ride” covering all four places of worship to highlight the peaceful co-existence of Sabah’s multi-religious society, and it could also potentially become a unique attraction to tourists.

Joniston, who is also the chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board, said that the new push was to further diversify Sabah’s selling points to the global tourism industry, who usually push its nature attractions.

“In Sabah, we don’t just want to be renowned for the beauty of our fauna and nature, but also the people,” he added.