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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s status as a nature travel destination received a boost with a jungle lodge in the east coast being listed among National Geographic’s 24 Unique Lodges of the World.

The Sukau Rainforest Lodge, located along the wildlife rich Sungai Kinabatangan, is the first such facility in the country to gain entry into the exclusive club and among only three such facilities in Asia.

Lodge owner Albert Teo said the National Geographic listing was a special achievement as the facilities represented a collection of boutique hotels at unique locations around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence.

“Sukau Rainforest Lodge was from our vision of creating a complete ecotourism experience.

“This listing presents a unique opportunity not just for us but for Sabah and the entire country as well,” said Teo after celebrating the 20th anniversary of the lodge and its National Geographic listing on Monday.

Among those at the event was state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

National Geographic deployed experts to each site to evaluate operations, meet staff at all levels, scrutinise the impact on the local environment and community and ensure that these criteria were met.

Costas Christ, National Geographic Traveler magazine editor-at-large coordinated an international team to inspect each of the lodges.

“Travellers can feel confident when they stay in one of these lodges that they are helping to safeguard cultural and natural treasures in some of the world’s most incredible places,” he said.

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