Sabah DCM expresses confidence tourism industry back on track

KOTA KINABALU: Some 480 graduates of the Asian Tourism International (ATI) College here received their diplomas during its 25th convocation held at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here on Thursday (Nov 24).

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Joachim Gunsalam officiated at the event and gave away the scrolls to the graduates from the 2020, 2021 and 2022 batches.

Speaking during the convocation, Gunsalam expressed confidence that the tourism industry will flourish once again after the country opened its borders to allow international tourists back to Malaysia.

“This will also boost rural tourism, especially community-based tourism, in line with the aspirations of the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry which wants to transform community-based tourism into a world-class tourism destination by 2030,” he said.

Apart from its beautiful natural tourism assets, he added, Sabah has always been a favourite destination for international events.

“Recently, we had the Borneo Bird Festival and WWF Malaysia’s 50th Anniversary Conference.

“I was made to understand that the World Tourism Conference is also happening at the end of the month at SICC.

“All these will undoubtedly require lots of skilled personnel and manpower to provide the best hospitality services to tourists,” said Gunsalam, who is also the Sabah Industrial Development Minister.

According to him, human capital was one of the main thrusts of the Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) development plan, apart from tourism, agriculture and industry.

He said human capital included providing education and avenues for youngsters in the state to attain skills and knowledge either locally or abroad.

“The state government is helping our youngsters and secondary school leavers to acquire this knowledge through scholarships, sponsorship and various other assistance,” he said.

While congratulating all the graduates, Gunsalam also paid tribute to ATI College for their dynamism, enthusiasm and perseverance in providing education to the students.

“I am really impressed with your learning programme which involves the direct participation of all the big players in the tourism and hospitality industry.

“At ATI College, I was made to understand that you made lots of emphasis on local hospitality businesses such as homestays and small restaurants, especially in rural settings,” he said.

The Deputy Chief Minister also praised the students whose learning experience had been marred by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If anything this pandemic has taught us to be more resilient and resourceful in overcoming problems and challenges in life.

“Since 2020 when the movement control order (MCO) was implemented, you were made to study online without face-to-face learning with the lecturers and not being able to discuss with your peers.

“And despite the limitations like internet coverage, you made it and managed to overcome every obstacle. Congratulations, now there is nothing to stop you from moving forward,” said Gunsalam.

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