Sabah moves to revive once-thriving tourism industry

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s has got the ball rolling to revive its tourism industry that has lain dormant with numerous lockdowns since the Covid-19 pandemic hit early last year.

With the lifting of the inter-district travel ban in the state, its Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is now focusing on tourism revival and jump-starting the industry.

“We will also work towards restoring the confidence of tourists to put the sector back on the road to generating income for the state,” its minister Jafry Arifin said.

Contrary to the perception that most tourism players have shuttered their businesses, he said that only 1% of new tourism operators had shut down completely during the various lockdowns.

Based on a survey by the Sabah Tourism Board, he said that 48% only closed operations temporarily.

“The number of tour operators who are still fully operational to date is 45.5%,” he added.

The ministry is now trying out various new approaches, including more aggressive and strategic promotional campaigns, to revive the tourism industry.

Among them are virtual engagement sessions for Sabah tourism fairs, which also involve the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, Sabah Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies, and Asia Pacific Tourism Association.

It will also engage with foreign trade press on social media campaigns.

Jafry said the state had also assisted tourism workers during the various lockdowns, including one-off assistance of RM2,000 to tour operators, and RM300 to tour guides, art activists, dive masters, mountain guides and porters, among others.

Hotel and accommodation operators of four- and five-star establishments each received RM5,000, while the rest received RM2,000 each.

Operators of short-term accommodations, homestay associations, and the Rural Tourism Association each received one-off assistance of RM1,000.

In addition, Jafry said his ministry also offered incentives to encourage domestic tourism activities as well as the organisation of business activities, including meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

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