KOTA KINABALU: Tourism in the biodiversity-rich Kinabatangan area should be able to restart soon if operators under the Corridor of Life Tourism Operator Association (KiTA) can overcome challenges, such as fear of travelling.
KiTA president Alexander Yee said although they were ready to reopen for business, especially in the lower Kinabatangan area, the biggest challenge they would need to overcome was public fear.
“There is a lack of confidence to travel as well as a lack in disposable income due to this pandemic, ” he said, adding that locals were not interested in the environment and wildlife-based products and services, ” said Yee.“Tourism activities in Kinabatangan include jungle trekking and boat cruises for wildlife watching.“Our customer base is mainly European tourists, with only 4% to 5% made up of domestic visitors from Peninsular Malaysia.”
The Kinabatangan area, he said, could generate up to RM100mil in annual tourism revenue, adding that it was important for state borders to carefully and selectively reopen as domestic tourism would not be sustainable.
“It is vital that the Kinabatangan area leads the revival of tourism activities in Sabah’s east coast as tourists often enter via Sandakan and visit surrounding areas like Sepilok, Tabin and Danum Valley, ” Yee said.
KiTA has set aside RM200,000 to kick-start its tourism campaign, including the setting up of a hygiene standard operating procedure (SOP) for member lodges and implementing this by the middle of this month.
Upon implementing this SOP, members will carry the “Safe. Trustworthy. Responsible” branding.
Yee said KiTA will also be hosting some 200 frontliners in August as a form of appreciation for their sacrifices as well as to generate tourism activities.
“We will be launching a new promotional video to show the new norms in Kinabatangan, ” he said, adding that he hoped to meet state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew next week to brief her on these matters and get some funds to kick-start tourism activities.
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