Borneo Eco Tours Sdn. Bhd.
Borneo Eco Tours (BET) was established in 1991 as a travel and tour company, specialising in ecotourism in Sabah & Sarawak, especially in the East Coast of Sabah. The company is well established and is one of the larger ecotourism companies in Malaysia.
The IB business: BET’s IB model is called the Sukau Rainforest Lodge (SRL). The Lodge started operations in 1995 and is located in the remote rural community of Sukau village. BET’s previous mainstream business, obtained buy-in from the locals by giving handouts, such as providing – as part of the company’s strong CSR work - water tanks and providing medical camps for the community while running a mainstream business in the area. Under its new inclusive model BET and SRL aim to empower the local community by providing well paid income opportunities to the B40. SRL trains the local people to conduct tours. In addition to becoming tour guides and boat captains, both BET and SRL also creates other job opportunities for the local B40 people in the lodge resort (e.g. cooks, housekeeping, front office, guest services, maintenance), and as service suppliers (e.g. transportation, food, and other raw materials).
In the new IB model, about 500 - previously hunter gatherers villagers - are directly benefiting from SRL by being involved in the value chain of the company such as by being tour guides, cooks, housekeeping, maintenance and drivers. In addition, after 24 years of operations, some of the villagers are economically empowered as 30 of them now own their tour operating business that provides tours for SRL and other companies, making on average about RM15,000 a year. SRL have a structured training programme to increase the skill of the villagers to either make them employable or to become suppliers for SRL. BET is also looking at innovations to use and conserve the natural resources in Borneo through its training division, Mind Vistas, and its NGO, BEST Society. The company has already bought land for nature conservation and for the Sukau research centre. For example, they are establishing a bamboo industry for the local community in Kiulu (where bamboo grows well in the wild) through a local NGO they have established and funded. The locals will harvest the bamboo sustainably and use it to make household products that can be sold commercially and to build bamboo structures for the hotel and tourism industry.