Covid-19: STB wants vaccination of Sabah tourism workers fast-tracked

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board (STB) will hold discussions with the Federal's Tourism Ministry office here to facilitate the fast-tracking of Covid-19 vaccination for tourism-related workers in the state.

In a statement on Tuesday (June 27), STB chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said this is part of the concerted effort to hasten the re-opening of Sabah's tourism industry.

"It has been brought to our attention that the number of vaccinated tourism workers and frontliners were still very low, and this could hamper the safe re-opening of Sabah's tourism industry," added the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister.

Bangkuai said this push was also in line with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor's aspiration of increasing the immunisation efforts, where 60% vaccination rate in Sabah is targeted to be reached by October, so as to achieve herd immunity by year-end.

The vaccination for the tourism sector should include hotel staff, tour operators, boatmen, rural tourism workers, rafting guides, tour bus drivers and divers, among others, said Bangkuai.

"Once tourism workers are vaccinated, it would enhance interstate travel," said Bangkuai, who also addressed this issue when chairing the STB Tourism Committee virtual meeting earlier on Monday.

On paving way for the re-opening of the industry, he said the Board would also discuss with stakeholders to consider independent external Green Tourism certification, and the possibility of introducing Covid-19 insurance policy for visitors' confidence.

In relation to that, he said the state Tourism Recovery Committee, which comprised captains of industries, would be meeting next week to revisit the Tourism Recovery Road Map drawn up after the first meeting of the committee late last year.

"Once the pandemic is under control, STB will embark into more aggressive marketing and promotions to tap into the business and leisure travel segment."

Bangkuai added that STB had continuously reached out to global partners in key markets to maintain a close rapport, as well as understand the preparedness and needs of outbound from these destinations.

Meanwhile, on the announcement of the Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry that Kuching, Langkawi, Pangkor Island, and Fraser Hills had been identified as pilot projects for the travel bubble, Bangkuai urged that Kota Kinabalu be included as well.

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