KOTA KINABALU: The Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to reset the strategies for the tourism sector in Sabah during the post-recovery phase and when moving forward, says Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
The Sabah Chief Minister said even though the pandemic has caused tourism activities to be halted temporarily, it also gave the chance for tourism destinations in the state to recover.
“The short-term plan is to revive tourism once the pandemic ends, and all our travel and tourism industry players are awaiting this moment, ” he said.
“The focus in the nearest time is towards domestic tourism, as well as re-attracting existing markets from China and South Korea, ” he added when speaking to government leaders and civil servants during the official launch of the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) Halatuju, which is the state’s five-year development plan here on Monday (March 29).
At the same time, he reminded that there will be stiff competition as other countries will also be rushing to attract tourists when international borders start to open.
“That is why we need to be creative by fully utilising digital technology such as digital marketing, the use of various apps and virtual reality applications.We must explore various safe travel methods that are trusted by global citizens, such as via travel bubbles, green lanes or a ‘Covid-19 free’ travel pass, ” said Hajiji.
He said that under the SMJ plan, it aspires to balance mass tourism with high yield/high-end tourism in order to reduce the dependency on the former.
Hajji added that as such, new iconic attractions that are high impact must be planned and implemented as prestigious destinations that will be able to attract those in the high-end category.
He cited the example of the recently announced Lok Kawi Resort City which is an up and coming integrated development comprising resorts, shopping malls, and theme park, among others.
“At the same time, our main assets are the natural landscape and our endemic wildlife and marine life. The sustainability of our destinations and tourism products is one of the main focuses under the SMJ plan, where the carrying capacity of each tourism destination must be introduced and enforced, ” he said.
“This is to ensure these unique attractions can be preserved, and could be visited in its prime condition not only for present visitors, but future ones, ” added Hajiji.