KOTA KINABALU: Tourism players in Sabah may soon be able to introduce their goods and services to the world after the signing of a deal to develop a smartphone application known as “Hello Sabah” here on Monday (Sept 12).
Sri Pelancongan Sabah, a Sabah Tourism Board wholly-owned subsidiary, and Tourplus inked the service agreement to develop the app which would serve as a digital platform for the state tourism industry.
Through the partnership, the Hello Sabah application will function to digitise the state tourism business, allowing local product owners and industry players from the public as well as private sectors to market their goods and services.
It will also feature an online booking platform for rural tourism and community-based tourism, among others.
The agreement was signed between Sri Pelancongan Sabah general manager Zachary Mobijohn and TourPlus Technology founder and chief executive officer Rickson Goh at the Le Meridien Hotel here.
Witnessing the signing ceremony, state Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the Sabah Tourism Board would monitor the progress and success of the mobile application in achieving its purpose, including the promotion of rural tourism.
“As the chairman of Sabah Tourism Board, I am extremely happy to see rural tourism operators included in this Hello Sabah application initiative.
“The rural tourism sector has been through a lot of ups and downs since 2014 to get to where it is today, with some community-based tourism operators earning Asean and global recognition.
“We aspire to make our rural areas into world-class rural tourism destinations by 2030, and to do so, we need to be able to provide a digital platform to present our rich culture, traditions, food, handicraft and local community way of life to the world,” he said.
Mobijohn said that Sri Pelancongan Sabah will play a role as a strategic partner in the development of the Hello Sabah mobile app.
The application, he added, is set to promote Sabah’s tourism industry by utilising Tourplus’ advanced technology.
He explained that the Hello Sabah app aims to have up to 100,000 merchants on the mobile application as its ultimate target.
“Merchants who are interested to be featured on this platform must pay a listing fee of RM300.
“However, in order to entice more merchants to take advantage of this platform, we will be waiving this listing fee to all merchants who sign up in 2022.
“On top of that, we will only be charging a minimum payment gateway fee of 2.12% for the first 100 transactions. Normal commission rates will apply thereafter,” Mobijohn said.
At the same time, Goh was optimistic that the initiative will aid the travel sector's transition to digitalisation 4.0 and enable local industry players to better prepare in meeting the demands placed on them by the state's tourism industry.
Meanwhile, Bangkuai pointed out that it was necessary for the Hello Sabah developers to work with the Federation of Rural Tourism Association Sabah (Fertas).
This was in order to obtain their input or strategy for the application to effectively aid rural operators in marketing and promoting their products or destinations, he said.
“While it is important to promote creativity and get rural businesses on board the digital train, it is also essential to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of the app and collect feedback from all stakeholders involved.
“This way, we will have a better grasp of how a social media app fits into a business and will be able to identify what is successful or otherwise,” he said.
Also present at the event were Sabah Tourism Board chief executive officer Noredah Othman, her deputy Julinus Jimit and TourPlus chairman Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah.