About the Author
Timothy Teo, managing director of Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Rainforest
Lodge, is passionate about transformative ecotourism. He aims to shape
global standards, inspire sustainability, and position Borneo as a
leading destination. His vision is for travel to immerse in nature,
support communities, and create a sustainable legacy.
In 1991, Borneo Eco Tours embarked on a mission that was ahead of its
time—ecotourism. Back then, the concept of ecotourism was still
unfamiliar and questioned by many. It was not a fashionable thing to do
in the industry yet, and people often asked, "What is it, and why should
we care?" However, Borneo Eco Tours had a different vision. We believed
that travel could go beyond mere exploration and become an opportunity
to nurture the environment and create meaningful experiences.
This visionary approach led to the establishment of Sukau Rainforest
Lodge in 1995. Located in the heart of Borneo, Sukau Rainforest Lodge is
an eco-lodge unlike any other. It stands as a testament to the
remarkable beauty of the natural world. Surrounded by lush rainforests
and abundant wildlife, it offers an immersive experience where
travellers can truly connect with nature.
Sukau Rainforest Lodge's Borneo Villas.
Sukau Rainforest Lodge is a place where wildlife thrives in
abundance, creating a unique ecosystem unparalleled in other parts of
Sabah or Sarawak. Everywhere you look, there are numerous species
coexisting harmoniously with humans. It is a natural habitat where
animals roam freely and can be easily observed by visitors. The lodge
provides an exceptional opportunity for travellers to immerse themselves
in the wonders of nature and witness extraordinary encounters with
The essence of Sukau Rainforest Lodge lies in its commitment to
ecotourism. Unlike other destinations that rely on artificial
attractions and mass tourism, Sukau Rainforest Lodge embraces the
principles of sustainable travel. It offers an experience that is
genuine and untouched by human intervention. Travellers who seek
authenticity and yearn for a deeper connection with the natural world
find solace in the serenity of Sukau.
Promoting ecotourism in Asia
Sukau Rainforest Lodge’s guests can spot primates like the Red Leaf Monkey in the lush canopy.
The importance of promoting ecotourism in Asia cannot be overstated.
As travel operators, we have a responsibility to ensure that our
business practices do not harm the very destinations we rely on.
Unfortunately, traditional tourism often leaves a negative impact, with
beaches becoming polluted and coral reefs suffering destruction. This
unsustainable approach ultimately undermines the long-term viability of
the tourism industry itself.
By embracing ecotourism, we can create a more sustainable future. It
is about supporting something in our own backyard, recognising the
incredible biodiversity that Asia possesses. Sabah, for instance, is a
region that teems with wildlife in astounding numbers. Yet, many people
remain unaware of the riches that lie within their reach. Renowned
naturalist David Attenborough himself has spent weeks at Sukau
Rainforest Lodge, captivated by its magnificence. It is a testament to
the remarkable destination that Asia has to offer.
Promoting ecotourism in Asia is not just about conservation; it is
also about empowering local communities and preserving their cultural
heritage. Ecotourism allows travellers to engage with local cultures,
supporting livelihoods and fostering understanding. It is an opportunity
to bridge the gap between different cultures and build a more inclusive
and sustainable world.
Challenges with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Pygmy elephants passing by Sakau Rainforest Lodge.
While online travel agencies (OTAs) have become an integral part of
the modern travel landscape, we, at Borneo Eco Tours, approach them with
caution. We acknowledge that OTAs serve a purpose, catering to the
convenience-seeking traveller. However, there is a subtle danger that
comes with their seemingly innocuous listings.
When unique and special offerings enter the realm of OTAs, they often
become commoditised. Human nature compels us to compare and seek
familiarity, undermining the uniqueness of destinations like Sukau
Rainforest Lodge. As operators, we choose not to succumb to the
commoditisation of our products. Instead, we strive to attract
individuals who seek the extraordinary, who yearn for something truly
Reaching the masses without reliance on OTAs
To reach a wider audience without relying solely on OTAs, we employ
innovative techniques that resonate with our target market.
Collaboration with travel agents and wholesalers has proven instrumental
in reaching discerning travellers who value authentic experiences.
Accreditation from esteemed organisations like National Geographic adds
credibility to our cause, instilling trust in our offerings.
Sakau Rainforest Lodge proudly holds a place on National Geographic's esteemed list of "Unique Lodges of the World."
Investing in travel trade shows provides opportunities to showcase
our unique products and forge meaningful connections with industry
professionals. The internet has also become a gateway to unforgettable
experiences, as our website leverages search engine optimisation (SEO)
to ensure visibility. Social media platforms enable us to establish
credibility and engage with potential travelers, while third-party
review sites provide invaluable validation.
We recognise that the travel industry is evolving, with direct
bookings becoming increasingly prevalent. However, we remain committed
to maintaining strong partnerships with travel agents. We respect their
margins and provide comprehensive support, understanding that trust is
the foundation of the travel trade. This symbiotic relationship ensures
that both sides are well taken care of, guaranteeing the best experience
for both our travel partners and their clients.
An education session at Sakau Rainforest Lodge where guests will learn about the way orangutan live in their natural habitat.
In a world where authenticity is increasingly rare, Borneo Eco Tours
and Sukau Rainforest Lodge remain steadfast in our belief that the magic
of travel lies in embracing the extraordinary, stepping beyond the
realm of the ordinary, and savouring the untamed beauty that awaits
those who venture with them. By promoting ecotourism, nurturing local
communities, and prioritising sustainability, we hope to leave a legacy
worth celebrating—a legacy that not only celebrates the natural world
but also inspires future generations to become custodians of our planet.