The ecotourism sector in Ba’kelalan which is well-known for its highland tourism products is expected to continue expanding as the country shifts into the endemic phase of Covid-19.
The development of the sector will be supported and driven by the Sarawak government’s plan to build and upgrade roads in Ba’kelalan which will be integrated with the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road (SSLR) project and expected to be completed in the next few years.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk AmarAli Hasan said through the new road infrastructure facilities, Ba’kelalan, famous for its beautiful mountain landscape, hill padi or Adan rice cultivation and hill salt wells, will continue to be a popular tourist destination in the Land of the Hornbills.
“Ba’ kelalan’s hill salt for instance, is of high quality and the unique and conventional art of producing salt by the Lun Bawang community here, has also become an attraction.
“To further promote this ecotourism initiative, we will work on improving the product packaging by preserving its traditional elements that highlight the originality and significance of Lun Bawang ethnic art.
“Indeed, we need to move with the time, but we must not run away from the traditional way of doing things, which adds to the uniqueness and beauty of the product,” he told Bernama following his recent visit to several ecotourism locations in Ba’Kelalan during which he was accompanied by Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Henry Sum Agong who is also Lawas MP.
“Tourists who come here can have a hand in the salt production process. We also encourage the salt producers here to display their products which can be purchased by visitors as souvenirs or gifts,” he added.
Awang Tengah added that the state government through the Sarawak Forest Department would also continue to channel assistance, including infrastructure needs to improve production of the hill salt.
Meanwhile, a resident who has been in the hill salt business, Liau Salutan, 76, said the villagers, involving 40 families have been taking turns working on the salt extraction process.
“To obtain 60 kilogrammes of hill salt, the process of boiling the salty water from the well until it vaporise to form a sandy texture takes between five and seven days, ” said Liau, who has over 50 years of experience in the salt making process.
Several villages in Ba’Kelalan are also offering home stay facilities for visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the villages, padi fields and buffaloes surrounded by mountains while experiencing cold and foggy weather in the morning or after it rains.
Ba’kelalan which is the gateway leading to Sarawak’s highest mountain, Gunung Murud, is also a popular destination for climbing enthusiasts and those interested to visit Pulong Tau National Park as well as the three waterfalls along Sungai Kumap which is an hour’s walk from Kampung Buduk Nur, here. – Bernama