Opposition lawmakers provide input on tourism-related issues in Sabah state assembly

KOTA KINABALU: Opposition lawmakers cornered State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew over tourism-related issues and “schooled” her during the ongoing state assembly sitting on Wednesday.

Among them were Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan - Senallang) and Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (Umno - Lamag), who gave input on how Sabah can earn more and benefit from the millions of tourists to the state.

Shafie suggested imposing taxes wherever possible instead of giving all the tourism revenue to the federal government.

He said the management of islands and other locations should be under Sabah, just as he did for Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan in 2019 when he was chief minister.

Regarding foreign companies operating in the state “taking away” local players' business, Bung said the state has the authority to stop trading licenses even if the federal government issued other licenses through the Tourism, Arts, and Culture Ministry.

Sri Tanjong assemblyman Justin Wong suggested that Sabah open the Tawau market to visitors from other countries and not focus only on Chinese or Koreans.

Datuk Jaujan Sambakong (Warisan - Sulabayan) urged the state to put more emphasis on eco-tourism because nature draws visitors to the state.

Liew (PKR - Api-Api) said the state is always looking to expand its market and does not stop people of any nationality from visiting Sabah.

She said various initiatives were in place to attract more visitors, see to the distribution of tourists and not only focus on specific areas, expand products, get more local players to benefit from tourism spillovers and improve facilities, including those in the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

Towards the end of her speech, she said the ministry would take note of all suggestions and thanked those who gave their input on tourism-related matters.

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