Thursday, 29 June 2017

(NST) Ant-tertaining! Family creates Sabah's next top tourism attraction: Borneo Ants House

TUARAN: A local family here has invested their money to create a one-of-a-kind tourism product – Malaysia’s first underground gallery cum theme park.

The Borneo Ants House, which is expected to lure local and foreign visitors when it opens its doors on July 1, also stands out for another reason – its design concept is based on ant nests.

The underground gallery is divided into four rooms. Prior to entering the "nest", visitors will be greeted by giant ant replicas at the main entrance that lead into a room filled with ants "crawling" on the walls.

Visitors are free to explore the rooms which display different exhibitions that showcase Borneo – namely, its swords, heritage, culture and nature (including 463 ant replicas).

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun launched the Borneo Ants House and toured the gallery and surrounding area.

Its executive director, Sufiah Abd Rahim Lee, said the idea was inspired by her husband, Tarmizi Sandhu, several years ago.

"We initiated it in 2015 as a family project (but) we saw a potential to develop it as a mini-theme park tourism product.

"We wanted to build a place where family and friends can spend quality time together," she said.

The former teacher added that the family took two years to complete the mini park, at a cost of about RM700,000, on three-acres of land.

Apart from the gallery, visitors can enjoy a canopy walk, visit a modern tree house and have a meal at the cafeteria.

Sufiah said the house signifies the hardworking nature of ants, and the family aims to create job opportunities at the Borneo Ants House for nearby villagers.

Earlier, Masidi commended the family for creating an innovative and creative product for the state’s tourism sector.

"The (tourism) industry in Sabah needs a unique business such as the Borneo Ant House. There will come a time when tourists may not want to climb mountains or go snorkelling (anymore).

"Tourists are looking for unique products and I hope the Borneo Ant House will continue to bring more to add value to the product," he said, adding that the attraction will be added to Sabah tourism's website.

The entrance fee for the Borneo Ant House is RM9 (Malaysian children aged between 7 and 12, and senior citizens) and RM19 (Malaysian adult).

Tickets for international visitors are priced at RM18 (children aged between 7 and 12, and senior citizens) and RM36 for each adult.

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