KUDAT (December 6): Kampung Tajau Laut has a lot of potential here as a day trip destination for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy peaceful coastal living.
The peaceful seaside village, some 180 kilometers from the state capital, has around 500 inhabitants, the majority of whom are Bajau and depend on seafood.
There is currently only one private guesthouse – Tajau Laut Guesthouse – which can accommodate overnight visitors.
It is operated by Junaidi Awang Bulat, who has helped attract tourists to the village and involve the community in tourism activities.
“Tourism here is still new. I started in 2016 and with the help of villagers I built a driftwood guesthouse, ”he said, adding that he now has three guesthouse units with five bedrooms in total.
Since its operation, Tajau Laut Guesthouse has seen an increase in tourist arrivals over the years, with 589 guests registered in 2019.
Of that number, 446 were foreigners from Europe, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Taiwan, India, Argentina and Japan, among others.
Junaidi noted that after seeing the favorable response, the villagers expressed interest in developing community tourism, for which they were initially unprepared.
Recently, the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) product team traveled to Kampung Tajau Laut to educate people about the concept of community tourism after seeing the potential.
STB Board Member Walter Kandayon, also President of the Kadamaian Tourism Association, and STB Product Manager Daniel Roman and Deputy Product Managers Jason Jay, Justin Paujik and Doren Munting were on hand to make the presentation.
Junaidi said the villagers were grateful to STB for meeting them, as such an interaction made people aware of the need to work together to transform Kampung Tajau Laut into a community rural tourist destination and keep their village clean.
To begin with, he said the village community had formed a committee to discuss necessary issues, such as potential products or activities to present to future visitors.
At the moment, tourists and visitors can practice snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, coral conservation, and cooking. The community plans to build a hiking trail in the jungle.
During the engagement, STB staff partnered with the village community to clean up the beach, collecting 438kg of trash.
Plastic bottles, plastic bags and plastic food packaging made up most of the waste collected.
“It’s encouraging to see more and more locals wanting to venture into tourism and develop their resources. Over the years, the Kudat district has experienced greater growth in accommodation, and could still benefit more. Our initiatives are in line with our sustainability goals, including guiding product owners and tourism operators in best practices, ”comments Noredah Othman, CEO of Sabah Tourism Board.