Sabah Tourism Board hopeful sector can re-open in stages from October

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Board is hopeful that the state's tourism sector can re-open in stages by October, starting with inter-district movement for locals.

Its general manager Noredah Othman said this is also based on the promising outcome of the recent tourism stakeholders Covid-19 vaccination survey conducted online involving 152 respondents from Aug 13 to Aug 17.

The respondents consisting of 50 tour operators, 66 hotels and resorts, and 36 tourism attractions showed 85% of the respondents’ workforce have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 47% have been fully inoculated.

“The employees at most of the government-owned tourism attractions have also received at least their first dose.

"This goes for most of the hotel staff in the survey too. We are hopeful we can re-open the tourism sector in the next two months.

“The government has also intensified the immunisation programme state-wide including allowing walk-ins, which will further help rehabilitate the tourism sector,” she said in her presentation entitled "New strategies to speed up recovery in the tourism sector post-vaccination".

Noredah was one of the speakers for the webinar on strategies to enhance competitiveness post-vaccination organised by the state Finance Ministry in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies Sabah (IDS) on Thursday (Aug 19).

However, she noted that there were still challenges in getting tourism operators in rural areas vaccinated, based on a separate ongoing study on vaccination rates of rural tourism stakeholders.

The study involves 79 individual respondents from 10 tourism associations that are members of the Federation of Rural Tourism Association (Fertas).

She said data showed that 49 of the respondents or 62% have been fully vaccinated, while 14 respondents or 18% have received the first dose. The remaining 16 respondents (20%) were not vaccinated.

“Some of the respondents refused to be vaccinated due to personal reasons,” she said without elaborating further, adding that Kota Belud had the highest number of rural respondents who were vaccinated at 17 individuals.

She also said that efforts were being made to engage communities to increase awareness and educate people who were still hesitant to get vaccinated.

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