By Chris Maskilone
PALAWAN: Sabah has tailored the Community-Based Eco Tourism (CBET) according to its own specific programme and approaches, which has been proven to be effective.
BIMP-Eaga Business Council (BEBC) Sabah chairman, Carl Moosom said CBET programmes tailored according to local needs worked effectively benefitting the target community.
“For Sabah the policy guidelines and regulatory approach is clear and tangible, all homestays are complimented with community activities or cultural products,” he said.
Delivering his presentation at BIMP-Eaga Second Tourism Forum at Coron, Palawan recently, Moosom believed CBET was probably the least promoted in the BIMP region compared to traditional tourism products.
“CBET sites while it is a growing market, it also suffers promotional attention be it budget or social media publicities.
“However, with digital age, CBETs are getting more popular now,” he said.
His presentation highlighted success story of two pilot CBETs programme by the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment through the Sabah Tourism Board namely the Kadamaian Kota Belud and Kiulu Tuaran community-based tourism sites.
According to him, both CBET sites were enjoying increasing visitors since its inception in 2014.
Moosom added a similar approach was introduced in Penampang and today the district is now actively promoting CBETs through the newly formed Penampang Tourism Association (PTA).
Palawan Provincial Government Tourism Department had visited the Penampang Homestay and it is learned they have continued to grow their tourism products mirroring that of Sabah too.
Today Palawan enjoys direct flights from China and already experiencing shortage of hotel rooms that showed there is an increasing number of visitors.
For Sabah, it is situated strategically and should be able to promote Tawau as the BIMP-Eaga Tourism Gateway and Kudat Town as the next BIMP-Eaga economic corridor connecting Labuan, Northern of Sabah and Palawan.
“These are essential to promote awareness and interest among local investors and grow the tourism market further but most importantly CBET must be sustainable and long term for the sake of community economic empowerment,” he said.
The three-day BIMP-Eaga second Tourism Forum was conducted in the touristic island of Busuanga Coron, Palawan revisiting the Community-based Eco Tourism (CBET) sites from the 28 – 30 May.
It was a follow-up agenda from the Strategic Planning Meeting (SPM) held at Hotel Hilton Kota Kinabalu in February 2019.
The forum aimed to share, provide and showcase best practises of CBET from its policies, guidelines and product concept.
During the three days event, all participants were exposed to major island destinations around Busuanga, Coron.
Dubbed as the next Borocay in Phillipines, it was also learned many of the islands around are now practising “Eco-Tourism” standards.
The event was hosted by Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) and officiated by the newly appointed Department of Tourism Philippines Assistant Secretary for Mindanao & Palawan Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar.
Also, on hand to deliver opening remarks the Municipal Mayor of Coron Mayor Ajerica S. Barracoso.
The forum was officially closed by Jonathan Miral being the Division Head International Relations Division and the head of delegation of MINDA.
Among the participants were tourism industry players namely from the Coron and El Nido Provinces ranging from tour agents and hoteliers.
Besides Moosom, delegates from Malaysia were Jerry Teo from Labuan, Fiona Raja and Desmond Wong from Sarawak.
BEBC Palawan was headed by Engr. Benedicto M. Guano JR and and a strong delegation of 20 from all over Palawan.
While BEBC President for El Nido Province Phillip Nangkil and Secretary Elmer Siilo Zita were on hand to promote their upcoming Business and Tourism Forum to be held at El Nido, Palawan on the 8th-10th August 2019.-SabahNewsToday