Resort raises environment awareness through green vacation
TAKING advantage of its location in Temburong’s rainforests, the Ulu Ulu National Park Resort has taken a step further to practise green living by planting organic crops and shunning the use of plastic bottles.
Anthony Chieng, managing director of Sunshine Borneo Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd, said the resort not only aims to become a tourist attraction but also raise awareness of nature conservation to visitors.
“After operating this resort and staying here a number of times, it made me realise how important nature is, so it is our responsibility and commitment to ensure we share this with those who visit,” he said in an interview.
Sunshine Borneo and Tours secured the government’s approval to operate the resort about six years ago.
“We should stop piling our country, our grounds with rubbish that is not biodegradable, instead of using and buying plastic water bottles, what we can do is use stainless steel bottles and refill it. That’s why you see a lot of refill stations around the resort.”
“If our country can have refill stations everywhere and you put 20 cents to refill, the whole country will be plastic-free,” he added.
Chieng also wants to create an experience that would leave a positive impact on visitors by planting flowers such as ixoras and hibiscus to attract butterflies.
“We also plant different types of plants and vegetables including coriander, curry leaves, wild ginger, kangkong and papaya. Everything is planted within the resort’s area so as not to disturb the natural environment.”
Chieng added that planting of the vegetables was one of the ways to promote health as well as encourage every household to grow their own crops and not be too dependent on products sold at supermarkets.
“The whole idea is that we really want to create the awareness and appreciation of nature and going organic.”
“We are trying to reach at least 95 per cent of food (sourced from Temburong). At the moment, what we don’t get locally is beef. Even the goats are local – we slaughter it once every month or once every two months,” said Chieng.
“We are doing this to reduce our carbon footprint so that’s why we try not to have anything imported. We want to provide our guests with local fresh food. This will help the local economy at the same time.”
He further said everything at the resort is recycled; leftover fruit and vegetable peels are accumulated, fermented and used as floor cleaners.
“Even driftwoods are made into tables. We even make our own compost where leftover vegetables are covered and layered with soil.
“We are trying to be aware of the impact that we create here and this is what we tell our visitors as well.”
The managing director said it is “a changing world” and it is unfortunate that more people consume chemicals and take a lot of fast food.
“It’s so important to really bring awareness and make a difference – that’s what I’m trying to do.
“It’s the awareness and realisation that we can’t force things on people but we can bring awareness that at least maybe they can cut down on certain things (that harm the environment),” he said.
Chieng added that there are plans to promote the resort as a detox centre. “This is a perfect place to appreciate nature and it is really difficult to find a place like this anymore.”
One of the challenges faced was having a steady flow of tourists.
“On average, we receive about four to five visitors a day. We get a few groups every month so that helps. It’s a slow and steady pace, but as time goes by I’m sure we will get 10-12 visitors a day. We are slowly getting there.”
Mohd Aizuddin Metusin, who stayed at the resort with his family last year, lauded the water refills as it reduces plastic and liquid wastage.
“I think it is a good move, as it promotes and encourages the habit of using only what you need to reduce wastage, thus reducing the impact of carbon footprint,” added the 25-year-old entrepreneur.
He said the water refill stations can be introduced around shopping malls to reduce dependence on plastic bottles.
The Brunei Times