Empowering Sabah – Unveiling the Potential of Community-Based Tourism and Strategies for Global Promotion

Nestled in the heart of Borneo, Sabah beckons with emerald rainforests and sapphire coral reefs, but beneath its natural wonders lies a vibrant tapestry of diverse communities. In recent years, the transformative force of Community-Based Tourism (CBT) has emerged, empowering locals to share their cultural heritage and natural landscapes with the world. This article delves into the essence of CBT in Sabah and explores strategic pathways to thrust it onto the global tourism stage.

Unveiling Community-Based Tourism (CBT)

CBT transcends conventional tourism, weaving a collaborative tapestry where cultural exchange, economic opportunities, and environmental stewardship flourish. In Sabah, with its kaleidoscope of indigenous groups, CBT emerges as an opportunity to create a more inclusive and sustainable tourism ecosystem.

Sabah’s Cultural Symphony

Picture the echoing gongs of a Kadazan-Dusun harvest festival, the rhythmic pulse of a Bajau sea dance, or the intricate beadwork adorning a Rungus warrior’s attire. Sabah’s cultural spectrum is a symphony waiting to be experienced. CBT strives to showcase this authentic tapestry through immersive interactions, allowing visitors to witness and participate in unique traditions.
Strategies for Amplifying CBT’s Global Resonance

1. Empowering Communities, Building Sustainable Success: Active community engagement lies at the heart of CBT. Equipping residents through training and cooperative formation fosters ownership and ensures their participation. Mentorship programs empower locals to become custodians of their heritage.

Expanding on this, mentorship programs could involve experienced members of the community guiding newcomers in areas such as sustainable tourism practices, effective storytelling, and hospitality management. This not only imparts valuable skills but also fosters a sense of intergenerational connection and knowledge transfer.

2. Immersion: Unveiling the Soul of Sabah: Crafted CBT experiences should transcend sightseeing, offering homestays, guided tours, and thematic festivals that celebrate Sabah’s heritage.

Expanding on this, the creation of themed cultural festivals could be further emphasized. These festivals, curated by local communities, can showcase not only traditional practices but also contemporary expressions of Sabah’s diverse culture, attracting a wider audience and encouraging ongoing cultural preservation.

3. Local Businesses: Weaving Economic Harmony: Collaborating with local businesses strengthens the economy. Encouraging communities to establish and manage tourism-related businesses fosters entrepreneurial spirit.

Further, incentives and support programs from government bodies, including Sabah Tourism Board (STB), can facilitate the establishment of these local businesses. The involvement of STB could include providing financial support, offering business development workshops, and assisting with marketing efforts, ensuring a holistic approach to community economic development.

4. Preserving Paradise: Sustainable Practices, Shared Stewardship: Sustainability is woven into CBT. Community-led initiatives safeguard Sabah’s natural beauty, aligning with responsible tourism principles.

Going beyond, actively involving communities in environmental conservation projects, supported by STB initiatives, can elevate the role of local residents as stewards of their environment. STB’s expertise and resources could aid in the implementation of eco-friendly initiatives, ensuring the long-term preservation of Sabah’s ecological treasures.

5. Harnessing the Power of Digital Storytelling: Captivating online platforms are key. Engaging storytelling and visuals showcasing CBT experiences entice travelers. Leveraging user-generated content through social media campaigns fosters a sense of community.

To enhance this, STB could spearhead a digital marketing campaign that not only promotes Sabah’s CBT experiences but also encourages travelers to share their stories and moments online. This interactive approach not only increases visibility but also creates a dynamic online community around Sabah’s unique offerings.

6. Partnering for Collective Impact: Collaboration is key. Aligning CBT initiatives with Sabah Tourism Board ensures unified efforts. Building partnerships with travel agencies and tour operators amplifies the reach and impact of community-based initiatives.

The recent appointment of Julinus Jeffery Jimit as the new STB CEO, coupled with the reappointment of Datuk Joniston Bangkuai as STB Chairman, signifies a renewed commitment to supporting CBT. Their extensive experience and dedication can provide valuable guidance and resources for community-based initiatives. STB’s involvement in international tourism events and trade fairs, alongside the visionary leadership of figures like Julinus Jeffery Jimit, further enhances the visibility of Sabah’s CBT model on a global scale.


CBT is a transformative journey for Sabah, empowering communities, preserving cultural treasures, and safeguarding natural wonders. Through strategic promotion, digital storytelling, and strong partnerships, Sabah can position itself as a global leader in responsible tourism. Travelers are invited to become part of this journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable tourism future, supported by the visionary leadership of figures like Julinus Jeffery Jimit and Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

-Sabah hype