KOTA KINABALU: For Sabah to restart its tourism industry, the state would have to open up their borders by reviewing the 14-day quarantine for those entering the state. Malaysian Association of Tour And Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the global trend is most countries will promote domestic tourism as a kickstart as borders are closed and circumstances are unpredictable.
"And almost 2.5 million visitors to the state were from the peninsula," he pointed out. Tan opined that nature, adventure and rural tourism would be the norm given the physical distancing requirements. He added that there would be an SOP for everything from vehicles to places of accommodation. Tan, however, said the recovery of the tourism industry would require a push from outside, with interstate travel being crucial and vital. Penang he said, would be a good start for interstate travel with Sabah. "The state could then open up to other low-risk countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Australia," he said.
Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan had said his ministry would re-develop the tourism industry, starting with domestic travel.
He said it would promote rural destinations such as around Mount Kinabalu, mountain climbing and hiking activities and even scuba diving.
Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association president Uzaidi Udanis said that Sabah was one of the most proactive states in tourism as it was dependent on the sector.
"Most of their travel agents are doing inbound tourism compared to the peninsula where there is more focus on outbound tourism," he said.
For example, he said Europe was slowly opening up its tourism sector by focusing on activities such as walking tours, which do not involve public transportation.
"The important thing is not having crowds, and adhering to the standard operating procedure (SOP).
"It is going to be some time before the vaccine for Covid-19 is found, so we have to live with it," he said.