PETALING JAYA: Events in Lahad Datu have had a negative impact on tourism, with hotels and tour agencies receiving cancellations from holidaymakers.
MATTA Sabah chapter chairman K.L. Tan hoped tourists would defer their holiday plans instead of cancelling their bookings.
“Several foreign countries have advised their citizens to avoid coming here (to Sabah) without taking into account that the intrusion occurred only in a remote area,'' he said.
Tan noted that businesses had been affected due to the unfounded rumours and even staff members had gone missing while on duty, leading to temporary shutdowns.
“Local tour operators play an important role in disseminating accurate information to overseas tourists and should organise trips to show that the situation is under control,“ he said.
Among the tour operators doing this is Ooi Chin Hock, who believes Sabah's attractions will overcome the negative impact of the intrusion.
“There may be people who are still too afraid to visit other places in Sabah but for many, it is business as usual,” he said.
Hoteliers are also pulling their weight to help improve the situation by assisting tourists reschedule their plans.
Sepilok Jungle Resort director Johnny Lim said hotels and other businesses were operating as usual.
“We are currently diverting tourists, who are already in Sandakan, to do tours elsewhere instead of heading to Kinabatangan,” he said.
Sandakan's Sabah Hotel sales and marketing director Anthony Kong said the first week of March was usually busy but cancellations had been pouring in since the intrusion.