TUARAN, Malaysia, 29 August 2022: Twenty-four 24 finalists of three national beauty pageants, who visited Kiulu last week, enjoyed a warm welcome from the locals and the thrill of white water rafting.

Kiulu is a sub-district of Tuaran in the West Coast Division of Sabah, Malaysia, about 60 km from Kota Kinabalu.

For 26-year-old Theevya Nathan from Kuala Lumpur, she felt fortunate to have visited Kiulu. “I’m overjoyed to see the villagers’ genuine joy, something I wouldn’t normally witness in a city setting. Their hospitality is impeccable, and even the food is superb,” she said.

She is competing in Miss World Malaysia and expressed her desire to return to Sabah and learn more about the diverse ethnic communities.

Another contestant, Janilda Navya Tiong Rui Fen, from Johor, said she was captivated by the traditional performance and water sports activities that Kiulu provides.

“I love adventure, and Kiulu is the place to be for adventure seekers. The rafting trip was fun because we saw more of the beautiful scenery in Kiulu as we boated along at our own pace,” she remarked.

Competing in Miss World Malaysia and Miss Supranational Malaysia, Janilda praised the community for keeping up its efforts to protect the environment and community-based tourism.

Miss World Malaysia competitor Anya Kimberley Kow found her trip to Kiulu enlightening because it gave her a chance to learn more about the rural destination and its culture.

“Some of us have decided to do water rafting, which was our first time. I was initially anxious, but after a thorough safety briefing from our guides, I had complete faith in the Kiulu people.

The Sabah resident said she hoped both locals and tourists would make the trip to Kiulu to experience the eco-tourism attraction near Kota Kinabalu city.

The three beauty contestants were among 24 Malaysian beauties competing in Miss World Malaysia, Miss Grand Malaysia and Miss Supranational Malaysia. The grand finals took place on 27 August at the Sabah International Convention Centre.

Their visit to Kiulu was hosted by the Hilton Hotel as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.

Meanwhile, Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment, who is also Sabah Tourism Board chairman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, expressed hope that the contestants would learn something meaningful during their visit and spread the word about Kiulu.

“I hope by coming here, the pageant contestants will gain a better appreciation for the Kiulu people and their cooperative efforts to improve the economy and village through tourism,” he said, encouraging them to use their influence to promote Sabah.

Joniston, a Kiulu assemblyman, was on hand to observe the activities of the pageant finalists. Also present were Sabah Tourism Board deputy chief executive officer Julinus Jeffrey Jimit and Hilton Hotel general manager Andrew Nisbet.

(Your Stories: Sabah Tourism Board)