Sabah rural tourism continues to garner widespread recognition, most recently with the award of the ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Standard to Walai Penyu Conservation Park.
This is Sabah’s second ASEAN Tourism Standards Awards (ASTA), following the Kadamaian Tourism Association’s ASEAN Community Based Tourism Award in 2019.
State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin said such prestige accreditation had positioned Sabah as a high-quality rural destination in Southeast Asia.
“I commend Walai Penyu Conservation Park for demonstrating how tourism can be managed sustainably and effectively in order to protect sea turtles,” he said.
The ASTA is a prestigious recognition supporting the implementation of ASEAN’s Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025.
It is set up by ten ASEAN member countries, namely Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
On Monday, Walai Penyu Conservation Park managing director Alexander Yee was in Kuala Lumpur to receive a certificate and trophy from the Ministry of Tourism, Art, and Culture (MOTAC), recognising the centre’s accomplishment.
Kampung Libaran village chief Sarief Nasidif and Honorary Wildlife Warden Sardi Baral were also present at the national-level presentation ceremony.
Alexander, who is also president of Friends of Sea Turtles Education and Research (Foster), was supposed to receive the award for the Rural Category under Safe Tourism theme in Cambodia early this year but was unable to make it due to the ongoing pandemic.
Its establishment has increased awareness among the Libaran fishing community and encouraged them to engage in turtle conservation initiatives.
Attracting international tourists, Walai Penyu combines community activities with conservation values to provide guests with an unforgettable experience. Walai Penyu also received the award for Best Tourism Product at the 2019 Sabah Tourism Awards.