Kampung Batu Puteh, a locality in Kinabatangan in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, is home to rural residents, fishermen, and farmers. The tiny village has been catapulted into the global scene after winning the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) ‘Best World Tourism Village’ award in Madrid, Spain on 2 December.
A low population density (less than 15,000 people) on a landscape with a significant presence of traditional activities such as agriculture, forestry, livestock, fishing, and the sharing of community values and lifestyle are among the criteria for the award. Thus, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia nominated Kampung Batu Puteh for this award.
In the exciting win, Kampung Batu Puteh beat over 170 other applicants from 75 countries, demonstrating its excellent values and actions in the promotion of rural tourism.
The village-based community cooperative includes several ecotourism operations and conservation projects, and has more than 350 members and cooperative shareholders. The collaborative venture between the Model Ecologically Sustainable Community and Tourism (Mescot) and the award-winning Miso Walai Homestay provides an organised community-based cultural tourism experience.
Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri mentioned that Batu Puteh is a successful model of responsible rural tourism, ecotourism, and community-based tourism, all of which Malaysia continues to promote vigorously.
Given the amount of natural assets, tradition, and cultural diversity with which we are fortunate, this tourist niche is one of the country’s key areas of strength.
Pandemic travel and the discovery of lesser-known locations are becoming increasingly popular, and this presents a fresh start for Malaysia because of this growing interest in ‘second city tourism’.
Tourists are likely to favour nature-based places with a laid-back lifestyle and plenty of fresh air, so now is the greatest moment to advertise hidden jewels in our countryside.