The concept of Responsible Tourism is derived from the wider concept of “alternative tourism”, which arose in the 1980s and 1990s particularly in response to the adverse impacts of mass tourism; travellers are becoming more aware of issues relating to the destructive nature of mainstream tourism such as over-development, exploitation of natural resources, degradation of local traditions and values, global warming, carbon emissions, etc.

In other words, responsible tourism allows the travel pattern needs to shift in focus from the wellbeing of the tourists to the wellbeing of the host community since it allows tourists and the tourism industry to have minimal impacts (or smaller ecological footprints) on the host community in terms of its natural and socio-cultural environments.

As for the case of Sabah,

responsible tourism is considered as the catalyst for sustainable development of rural tourism industry; it provides the means for poverty eradication by widening the distribution of tourism economic benefits by including the interior communities, in particular. The key objectives of responsible tourism applicable in Sabah, include:

  • To protect the environment – makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural heritage (flora, fauna and landscapes), maintaining the world’s diversity.
  • To respect local cultures – traditions, religions and built heritage, minimising negative economic, environmental and social impacts as a result of tourism development in rural areas.
  • To benefit local communities – involves local people in decisions that affect them both economically and socially. By adapting the ‘Fair Trade’ principles, it generates sustainable economic benefits to the local communities, enhances their well-being and improves their accessibility to the tourism industry.
  • To conserve natural resources – better management of tourism destinations, efficient use of tourism resources and improved working conditions through effective training.
  • To minimise pollution – reduction of noise, waste disposal and congestion, application of green technology and educating visitors about the local environment and its issues.
  • To provide authentic experiences – enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and foster a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.

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Therefore, the mission of ASEH Travel & Tours

is to facilitate travellers, who are looking for Responsible Tourism experiences in Sabah. Due to the character of such demand, we offer the following “responsible tourism” products: –

  • Volunteer Programme (or Experiential Learning) of Turtle Conservation Project at Selingan Island
  • Educational Visits to Turtle Islands Park and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Rainforest Carbon Offset Project
  • Nature Adventure at Kinabalu Park such as Jungle Trekking, Mountaineering, Birding and Orchid Tours

Although the concept of “responsible tourism”

is new in Sabah, the state has a great potential to develop this tourism sector for these reasons: –

  • The demand for opportunities to volunteer while travelling seems to be expanding due to other contributing factors, for instance improved global communication, increased in the roles of journalism and the media in world affairs, increased wealth and discretionary time, and increased in the importance of religion and spirituality in modern societies.
  • Sabah has been regarded as one of the world’s last frontiers for mega biodiversity but its natural resources are under threat from the process of modernisation.
  • Sabah has set up many world-class nature conservation centres in collaboration with various well-established international organisations such as WWF Malaysia, Partners of Wetlands, Yayasan Sabah, Marine Conservation Society UK, Nature Link Belgium, KOCP and SOS Rhino Project. Hence, there is a great potential to develop tourism activities relating to environmental preservation in Sabah.
  • Sabah has always been very optimistic towards the development of tourism industry as the state is accessible internationally, connecting its capital city, Kota Kinabalu, with international destinations such as Brunei, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Jakarta, Manila, Clark, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei, Tarakan, etc.[/one_half_last]