KOTA KINABALU: Restoring travellers' confidence to visit Sabah must be prioritised by the next state government, says the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents
With Sabah tourism industry badly battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the state should consider offering incentives to lure domestic tourists to choose Sabah for their vacations, said MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.
He said for those in the peninsula, travelling to Sabah means higher costs compared to visiting other popular destinations such as Penang and Langkawi.
"If the international borders are not opened yet, then it is important to restore local travellers' confidence to come to Sabah, which includes ensuring stringent health and safety
protocols," he said at the launching of a domestic stimulus package yesterday.
Tan added that the rising Covid-19 cases in Sabah's east coast from clusters involving illegal immigrants could dampen the state tourism recovery.
'It is a concern but I am hopeful the government and the Health Ministry will be able to check this," he said.
In his speech, Tan said the domestic and international flight frequency into Sabah dropped to 110 with 18,500 seats per week from pre-Covid-19 days of 660 weekly flights with 110,771 seats.
"We cannot treat this with 'business as usual' attitude," he said.
Caretaker Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew who launched the package said the initiative was part of the Warisan Plus government's commitment in ensuring tourism industry survival amid the pandemic.
The stimulus package offers financial support to Sabah-based tour operators where they can claim RM50 for each confirmed_ tourist taking up a minimum of the three-day two-night package stay in the state.