Sabah set to revive tourism industry by helping tour operators

Sabah is set to revive its tourism industry that went “dormant” over the last 18 months since the country was under various movement control orders.

With the lifting of the inter-district travel ban across the state, the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is now focusing on reviving the state’s tourism industry especially by helping operators restart their businesses.

“We are also working towards restoring tourists’ confidence in our tourism sector to generate income for the state,” its Minister Jafry Ariffin said.

Contrary to the perception that most tourism players might have shuttered down their businesses, Jafry said that only 1% of tourism operators had shut down completely after the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Based on a survey done by the Sabah Tourism Board, he said only 48% temporarily closed operations due to movement control orders.

The number of tour operators who are still fully operational to date is 45.5%, he added.

The ministry is now actively implementing various new approaches including more aggressive and strategic promotional campaigns to revive the tourism industry.

Among them are virtual engagement sessions for Sabah tourism fairs which also involved the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tourism Agents (MATTA), Sabah Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (SATTA), Asia Pacific Tourism Association (PATA) and cooperation with foreign trade in social media campaigns.

He said the state had assisted tourism workers through special assistance during the lockdowns.

Among them, was a one-off assistance of RM2,000 to tour operators and RM300 to tour guides, art activists, dive-masters, mountain guides and porters.

For hotel and accommodation operators, five and four star hotels received RM5,000 while three, two, and one star hotels received RM2,000.

Also receiving the same benefits were hotels that have not been recognised, homestay associations and also the Rural Tourism Association who each received RM1,000 payment.

In addition, he said his ministry offered incentives to encourage domestic tourism activities as well as the organisation of business activities including meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

“All parties need to be aware that bringing this sector back to the state before the Covid-19 outbreak will not be an easy task,” he added.

However, tour operators were now able to breathe a sigh of relief following the flexibility granted by the government, which allowed them to resume operations.

“We will always listen to the grievances and challenges faced by industry players at all subsequent levels together to address them comprehensively,” he said, adding that tourism was one of Sabah’s largest economic and employment contributors.


Filed Under: TourismTravel

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