Libaran Island Community Tourism

Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia


This tourism experience on Libaran Island is led by women who had never worked outside their homes. As they gain new income through tourism, they are also becoming more confident in speaking with travellers. The tour on Libaran Island highlights unique aspects of the community’s culture, environment and handicrafts, allowing the community to celebrate their culture and share it in a new way with guests.

community members employed
community members indirectly benefitting

Critical Need

Libaran Island is known as Borneo’s “Turtle Island” because thousands of Green and Hawksbill sea turtles return to nest here every year. To protect the turtles, the  FOSTER project, which stands for “Friends of Sea Turtles Education and Research”, was initiated on the island.  Being so remote, there are few economic opportunities for locals. Given that it is a nesting site for endangered species,  it is important that local people have the ability to earn an income that allows them to be stewards of this fragile environment, rather than taking advantage of it.  Tourism that fosters conservation as well as economic opportunities were needed to help this community thrive.

Our Involvement

Planeterra provided a catalyst grant to BEST Society, a Malaysian non-profit that has expertise in community development, to build the capacity of community members in Libaran village with the help of staff from a local resort. Community members learned how to improve the quality of their souvenirs made from ocean plastic waste, as well as how to use local plants like the pandanous leaf for weaving and cooking.

Related projects