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Sabah now an ecotourism hotspot


KOTA KINABALU, 28 October 2019: Sabah has aspirations to become Malaysia’s eco-tourism hotspot during Visit Malaysia Year 2020, according to the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

Last week the east Malaysian state hosted the Asean Tourism Human Resources Management and Development Network for Ecotourism Programme for participants from ASEAN countries.

Focusing on forest restoration, lake conservation and wildlife experience over four days and three nights the event closed 23 October.

Commenting on the event to local media the  State Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Assaffal Alian, said the event’s programme “shared Malaysia’s experience and expertise on best practices in ecotourism to provide a platform for engagement among ASEAN tourism players.”

Hosted in the Kinabatangan area, the event showcased sustainable tourism sites that can assume the role of a learning centre to protect wildlife and promote green tourism.

“The Kinabatangan River sustains one of the world’s richest ecosystems, being home to Borneo’s indigenous orangutan and the proboscis monkey. It is one of two known places in the world where 10 species of primates are found, and where all the eight species of hornbill found in Borneo thrive,” said Assaffal.

Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s Secretary-General Datuk Isham Ishak in his closing remarks said: “This programme is also in-line with the Malaysian Government’s efforts in promoting Sabah as an ecotourism destination with its rich natural environment and cultural diversity.”

Earlier in the year, Sabah won the designation “Malaysia’s Favourite Destination” at the 47th edition of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair 2019.

The state has set a target of 4 million tourists arrivals this year, comprising 2.57 million domestic travellers and the rest from overseas.

In 2018, Sabah tourism set a new record with the highest tourism receipts at MYR 8.34 billion based on  3.879 million arrivals.

It represented a 6.6% in tourism receipts and a 5.3% increase in arrivals compared to 2017.

Top five ecotourism activities


Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, Kinabalu Parkit’s also one of Asia’s top locations for its diversity of fauna and flora, providing a home to more than 4,500 different species.

The park is a favourites destination for hikers offering hikes for three to four hours to Layang Layang (2702 metres), or the more challenging climb to the top of Kinabalu Mountain (4095 metres).


Established in 1964 with the help of the Sabah government, Sepilok is a leading sanctuary in which they rehabilitate injured, displaced and orphaned orangutans.

The rehabilitation process has different stages, and the goal of the final one is to return the orangutans back to the 4294-hectare jungle of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest.


At 560 km, the Kinabatangan is the longest river in Sabah and the second-longest in Malaysia. Visitor can view the animals in their natural habitat on boat trips or hire a guide for a forest trek.

The brownish-yellow muddy river and its bank are home to the proboscis monkey, orangutans, river sharks, Bornean Pygmy Elephants, red leaf monkeys, crocodiles, macaques and more.


Located just 3 km from Kota Kinabalu, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, that covers 50 sq km, is made up of five islands – Gaya, Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Sulug.

Famed for its white-sand beaches, cliffs, caves and islands the park attracts scuba diving and those interested in marine conservation.


The only organic tea plantation in Borneo that produces high quality, pesticide-free tea, Sabah Tea Garden (near the town of Ranau) offers spectacular scenic views and provides numerous eco-adventures and educational tours of the plantation and tea factory.

Covering 2,500 hectares, the plantation itself and is a major spot for agritourism in Sabah.

(Source: For full details of the Top Five Nature attractions see

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