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Malaysia looks at volcano tourism

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Sabah Tourism

Volcano sites in Tawau Hills Park may have hot potential

The wing of Malaysia’s tourism ministry based in the region of Sabah is exploring, along with Universiti Malaysia Sabah, the possibility of introducing volcano tourism in and around the town of Tawau.

According to a recent report in The Star cited by TTG Asia, at least two volcanic spots have been identified in the Tawau Hills Park, beneath the turquoise waters of the park’s white sulphur springs and at an ancient crater in Mount Lucia.

Both are a few hours’ walk from Bombalai volcano, close to the border of Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. According to the website Volcano Discovery, this is the only volcano considered to still possibly be active in Malaysia – although its last eruption was thousands of years ago.

Diving and adventure
Inbound travel agencies say it is a special region. The president of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents, KL Tan, calls Tawau “the only volcanic area in Malaysia”, which makes it “a unique tourism product”. He adds that Tawau is also an entry point for divers to the islands of Sipadan and Mabul and should be a complementary product to diving in Sabah.

“What makes volcano tourism a niche market is the experience and interpretation of the volcanic characteristics and heritage,” he surmised. “The market for volcano tourism ranges from recreational tourists to adventure tourists. These tourists are usually looking for something new and unique while combining their interest in other recreational pursuits such as sightseeing, hiking or mountaineering.”

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