KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic) hopes other countries will take the cue from the UK’s lifting of the travel ban to Sabah’s northern Kudat district.
The Chief Minister said the state government welcomes the decision by the UK Government to change its travel advisory for British nationals travelling to Sabah.
Hajiji, who is also the state Security Council chairman, said Sabah was a safe place to visit and to do business.
"Following the latest security assessment by the Malaysian Security Council, Home Ministry and the Sabah State Government; the Royal Malaysian Police Force has given its assurance that the level of security in Sabah remains under control," he said in a statement on Wednesday (Nov 29).
"Curfew orders have been lifted. Sabah is a safe place to visit and to do business," added Hajiji, saying that more than 150,000 foreign tourists had visited the east coast of Sabah from January to September of this year.
With the UK Government’s decision, the Chief Minister expressed optimism that more British nationals will visit Sabah.
"I also hope other countries which have issued travel advisories will take the cue from the UK Government’s decision," Hajiji said.
The British High Commission in Malaysia in a statement said the update is the result of a rigorous review by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and represents the first major change to the UK’s travel advice for Sabah since 2013.
British High Commissioner to Malaysia Ailsa Terry said the travel advisory change was a testament to efforts by the Malaysian government to improve security in eastern Sabah.
"This travel advice review has been a priority since I arrived in August this year and I am very pleased that thousands of British nationals who call Malaysia home or visit every year will now be able to see more of this amazing country," she said in a statement on Wednesday.
The British government acknowledged that the security situation in eastern Sabah had improved, over a decade after the Lahad Datu incursion in 2013.
However, the British government noted that it would continue its travel advice against all but essential travel to the islands and dive sites from Sandakan to Tawau, including Lankayan Island.
The decision represented the first major change in Britain's travel advisory for Sabah since the 2013 incursion by over 200 Sulu terrorists, which resulted in the deaths of 56 militants, 10 Malaysian security force personnel and six civilians.
Kudat is famous for Simpang Mengayau, or the Tip or Borneo, as well as several beautiful beaches besides being home to Rungus, one of the major ethnic groups in Sabah.