Next Sabah govt must gain confidence of travellers to visit state, says MATTA

KOTA KINABALU: The next Sabah government must gain the confidence of travellers including offering them incentives to visit here for their holidays, says the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said travelling to Sabah means higher costs due to air transportation for those in the peninsula compared with travelling to popular spots like Penang and Langkawi.

“If the international borders are not opened (yet), the most important thing is to win travellers’ confidence which includes providing stringent health and safety protocols.

“On that note, perhaps the upcoming state government can provide incentives to lure domestic tourists to choose Sabah for their vacations, ” he told The Star when met at a domestic stimulus package event here on Thursday (Sept 17).

On whether rising Covid-19 cases in Sabah’s east coast due to clusters involving illegal immigrants would dampen tourism recovery for the state, he said it was a concern, but was hopeful that the government and the Health Ministry will be able to curb the issue.

In his speech at the event, Tan said the flights (domestic and international) frequency into Sabah at present have dropped to 110 flights with 18,500 seat occupancy per week, from pre-Covid days of 660 weekly flights with 110,771 seat capacity.

“We cannot treat this phenomenon with a ‘business as usual’ attitude, ” he said.

Meanwhile, caretaker State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew, who launched the event on behalf of caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, said today’s programme was part of the Warisan Plus commitment in ensuring tourism industry survival while coping with the pandemic.

The domestic travel stimulus is a financial support to Sabah-based tour operators where they can claim RM50 for each confirmed tourist under a minimum three-day, two-night package in Sabah.

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