SANDAKAN (June 27): The Sabah government is looking into promoting a different kind of dark tourism to boost the state’s tourism industry, and a state minister warned that it is not for the faint-hearted.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin explained that this kind of tourism involved hauntings associated with historical places in the state.
“Right now, throughout the world, there is this kind of dark tourism especially for visitors and there are many who are enthusiastic about it.
“But it requires some level of courage, so those with a weak heart, better not (partake in such an activity),” he told reporters after visiting the Agnes Keith House here today.
Jafry said the Sabah Museum Department was plucky enough to come up with a new product to entice more tourists to visit the Agnes Keith House, especially paranormal seekers keen on staying the night at the British colonial residence.
“This (Agnes Keith House) is a historical house during the British administration and is one of the tourist attractions in Sandakan. It is a landmark of the existence of Western power in Sabah and this place should be maintained as best as possible as it has become part of Sabah’s heritage,” he said.
State Museum assistant curator, Safinah Yusop said the plan to make the hauntings of the Agnes Keith House as a tourism product would be presented to Jafry’s ministry soon and hoped to offer the product once Sabah reopens its borders to international visitors.
Local and foreign visitors could camp outside or bring sleeping bags and sleep inside the house for a certain fee, she said.
“We came up with this idea because foreign tourists would say that they experienced eerie feelings as soon as they entered the house. But no foreign tourists admitted to seeing one (ghost).
“Tales of hauntings at the house had only been told by the locals. Some said they saw someone looking out a window and others said they saw a lady on the roof of the house,” she said.
The Agnes Keith House was named after an American author best known for her autobiographical accounts in Sandakan when she lived here with her English husband Harry Keith, a British forest conservator, in the 1930’s. In her writings, she made note of apparition sightings and mysterious incidents occurring at the house.
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