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Include story-telling in rural tourism, says Sabah asst minister

KOTA KINABALU: Story telling provide their tourists an in-depth experience of local lifestyles in rural environments, story-telling will enhance their experience with their host families.

Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said there are many and various tourism products being promoted by such enterprises nowadays, most of which banked on the environment and the people.

“We have trekking, bird watching and herbs introduction for our tourists. These are the products that can be tapped extensively. Inevitably, tour guides can explain what taboos are observed and traditions required to pluck, pick or dig these medicinal plants,” he said.

Tourists who go for rural tourism, he said, will also be interested with the people’s beliefs.

“They will be interested to know about our cultural and traditional background. I believe that, storytelling is an activity that should be presented as one of the programmes within the destination,” Joniston who is also Sabah Tourism Board Chairman said.

Speaking during the launching of a book entitled “Hauntings and Ghostly Whispers”written by Anna Vivienne, at Rumah Terbalik Tamparuli, he said storytelling, when done correctly and finely, can create an emotional connection between visitors and the hosts.

This emotional connection is a great form of tourism, where understanding and respect are incepted, he said adding that emotion is a powerful reaction that can create a strong bond, which in tourism can result in a ripple effect, a form of promotion, and therefore return visits.

He said homestay, kampung stay and farmstay programmes have tremendous offerings in form of traditional food, nature walks, trekking, bird watching, herbs and the general atmosphere of the village.

“Add on storytelling, even on how the village was established and this can act as the ‘soul’ of the package. Guides, when they have storytelling skills can talk about the spiritual aspects of a trek; thereby creatinh a sort of entertaining but informative experience for their tourists.

“Your marketing tools should sew the tangible and intagible together. This can allow you to create a memorable experience for visitors and allow your tourism operator network to work together to continue the storytelling cycle.”

Tourism is vital for the success of many economies in the State and economic revenue and thousands of jobs are generated through this industry, which in turn develop the infrastructures of the destination in question, he said.

Jobs and income opportunities created by tourism is significant with many spin-offs from homestays with their own itinerary or programme, he said adding that they include guides, who will earn a certain sum per assignment, handicraft sellers who sell their warea, food vendors who offer traditional food, traditional dancers during welcoming ceremonies and of course, in future, story-tellers who might tell their tales in the evenings for guests.

On the book, he said this book is an excellent souvenir for tourists who don’t wish to lug a heavy luggage.

“It can be a keepsake for those who are interested to know about the superstitiona, beliefs and taboos of the local people. This book can also be used by movie makers who wish to create series on thia genre and it can be uaed as a guideline for those who want to include storytelling in their tourism package,” he stressed. – ends.

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