Volcanoes could be Malaysia’s hot new tourism product

Volcano sites identified within Tawau Hills Park (pictured)

The Malaysian Tourism and Culture Ministry (Sabah), along with Universiti Malaysia Sabah, is exploring the possibility of introducing volcano tourism in Tawau, which shares a border with north Kalimantan and is the third largest town in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan.

According to a recent report in The Star, two volcanic spots had been identified at the Tawau Hills Park, beneath turquoise waters of the park’s white sulphurous springs and at an ancient crater at Mount Lucia.

Volcano sites within Tawau Hills Park (pictured) identified as having tourism potential

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

Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents president, KL Tan, said: “Tawau, being the only volcanic area in Malaysia, makes it a unique tourism product.”

Moreover, he said Tawau is also the entry point for divers to Sipadan and Mabul islands, and will serve as 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. 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,” he surmised.

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