Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Agro-tourism can attract more tourists to Sabah, says Rahim


Agrotourism has great potential in bolstering the State’s tourism industry, said Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Hj Abdul Rahim Ismail. He said various elements needed to develop agro-tourism are already in place as 70 percent of the State’s farmers live in rural areas that possess their own charms and extra-ordinary attractions. “Agro-tourism is among the efforts to attract more foreign and domestic tourists to visit Sabah,” he said after hosting a luncheon for Konstantine Vatskalis, the Minister of Tourism for the Northern Territory of Australia. Rahim noted that while agriculture is the main focus of Sabah’s Halatuju, there are various related components that are equally attractive such as aquaculture, livestock rearing and agro-tourism concepts. Vatskalis, on a working visit here, said that Sabah will become an important tourism destination for Australian tourists, especially for those living in Northern Territory areas such as Darwin. “There have been discussions with Jetair Australia to make stops in Darwin before proceeding to several destinations in South East Asia and this automatically makes Darwin the gateway to this region, specifically Sabah,” he said. Vatskalis expressed confidence that this flight plan will become a reality as the airline has already booked several new planes to service the route. “This confidence is based on the attractions in Sabah which include the uniqueness of its natural beauty, the food and the friendly residents here,” he said, adding that safety and political stability are also contributing factors. Vatskalis, who has visited Sabah seven times, also praised the State Government for emphasising on the tourism sector as the State is rich in natural resources which make it an attractive tourism destination in the region. “We have a similar strategy as the Sabah Government in attracting tourists to Australia, especially in the Northern Territory because there are many similarities between both areas such as the weather conditions and the environment,” he said. Meanwhile, during the luncheon the two ministers also discussed issues related to agriculture development, specifically on the livestock industry, which Rahim said is a follow-up on the memorandum of understanding between Sabah and the Northern Territory signed about five years ago.. “The close relations between both sides in agriculture development has spawned the development of the Sabah Meat Technology Centre in Kinarut,” Rahim said.