MANTOB, KIULU: A community based ecotourism project, “The Fig Tree” @ Kiulu Farmstay was launched by YB Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board and assemblyman of Kiulu district for the handing over of The Fig Tree by Ian Hall, Managing Director and Founder of Arkitrek to Albert Teo, Managing Director and Founder of Borneo Eco Tours and Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies (BEST) Society at Kampung Mantob, Kiulu on 26th August 2015.
The Fig Tree @ Kiulu Farmstay is the fruit from the collaboration of community leaders, Borneo Eco Tours, BEST Society, Arkitrek and twelve volunteer Arkitrekkers from United Kingdom, Malaysia, Spain and Australia led by Rory Thor Dickens to create a community based ecolodge that directly benefits three local villages in Kiulu, namely Kampung Mantob, Kampung Pinagon Baru and Kampung Dumpiring.
In just two months, the volunteers were able to design and build The Fig Tree @ Kiulu Farmstay, a two-bedroom self-contained ecolodge complete with kitchen, bathroom and dining area. The design of the ecolodge reflects the Bornean communal culture of longhouses and is built using locally sourced and treated wood, bamboo and biocrete walling that fit with the surrounding jungles. The Fig Tree is a natural and rustic ecolodge that combines innovative designs with volunteerism and community participation, as patterned woven bamboo panels were made by local community members.
“We have big plans for Kiulu in terms of promoting rural tourism, specifically in what we can do to empower local communities through tourism. The Fig Tree is a good starting point and we hope this will help motivate the local communities to venture into tourism activities in Kiulu,” said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.
Borneo Eco Tours is working on an integrated approach to develop ecotourism which will include Mitabang homestay, buffalo riding, fish spa, river tubing, quad biking, hiking, rafting among others, many of which will be owned and managed by local community members – a new ecotourism experience called Kiulu Farmstay. The Fig Tree is the first of several projects under Kiulu Farmstay in the three villages adopted by Borneo Eco Tours and BEST Society.
“Kiulu Farmstay will be part of our ecotourism pilot project to bring about economic transformation to the three villages to diversify their income and economic base so that these local farmers become less dependent on global price fluctuation of agricultural commodities. Kiulu Farmstay will act as a catalyst to help improve livelihood of the farmers by increasing the yield of rice fields through double cropping and better management of resources. Existing facilities will be upgraded and new tourism products developed to attract both international and domestic tourists,” said Albert Teo.