Including Kaamatan and Gawai festivals in Cuti-Cuti Malaysia itinerary can foster unity among Malaysians, says Sabah tourism minister

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said by including Kaamatan and Gawai in the list of festive holidays, this would allow Malaysians to plan their vacations as well as embrace diversity in the country. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said by including Kaamatan and Gawai in the list of festive holidays, this would allow Malaysians to plan their vacations as well as embrace diversity in the country. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 4 — In agreement with its neighbour Sarawak, the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is lauding recommendations that the state’s Harvest Festival, or Kaamatan, is listed as a major festival in the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia itinerary.

Its minister Datuk Jafry Arifin said it welcomed the federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s (Motac) proposal, not only for its tourism potential among foreigners, but also as a cultural attraction and catalyst for unity among Malaysians.

“Kaamatan is not just a cultural festival but also an important product to attract tourists both domestically and internationally, solidifying its position as a tourism hub,” said Jafry in a statement today.

“Aside from a tourism product, the festival will also be a catalyst to foster unity among all Sabahans and Malaysians.”

Jafry said that this was among the best possible moves to preserve the country’s cultural history and traditions for future generations, as well as a good effort to spur tourism in the country post Covid-19.

His support for the recommendation comes following his Sarawak counterpart Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri who said that although Kaamatan and Sarawak’s Harvest Festival, known as Gawai, are public holidays for the states of Sabah and Sarawak, it is important for people of other states to know and understand the culture and traditions behind these two festivals.

Nancy said by including Kaamatan and Gawai in the list of festive holidays, this would allow Malaysians to plan their vacations as well as embrace diversity in the country.

The Kaamatan festival is the native Kadazandusun and Murut’s biggest celebration rooted in cultural thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest but is celebrated by most Sabahans annually on May 30 and 31.

What started as a cultural festival with traditional games, a singing contest, and even a beauty pageant has evolved into a merry-making season that is embraced by Sabahans of all ethnic backgrounds.

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