30 C
Kota Kinabalu
Jumaat, April 19, 2024

Liew: Teamwork is essential for attainment of Ministry’s vision and mission

Photo : Liew presenting the Ministry’s Outstanding Service Award (APC) to Assessment Sector Head Elin Empau from the Environmental Protection Department

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment (KePKAS) will participate in the working visit to the Province of Jilin in China.

Disclosing this at the Ministry’s Outstanding Service Awards (APC) Night on Friday, its Minister Datuk Christina Liew said a meeting will be held with the Jilin Department of Culture and Tourism in China to discuss the opening of a new flight route between Kota Kinabalu and the City of Jilin, and to identify “Cross Promotion” between the two cities under Sabah-Malaysia My Second Home (SBH-MM2H) programme.

“The visit also aims to foster collaboration in the areas of tourism and investment between the Province of Jilin and the Sabah State Government.

“In addition, the move serves as a prelude to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tourism, Infrastructure, Agriculture & Education with Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP). Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor is expected to officiate at the inking ceremony. Through this effort, we hope to be able to further develop the tourism sector in the state,” she said.

With reference to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Liew noted that the entry of international tourists to Malaysia will hit 80pc up to 95pc (from the pre-pandemic period) this year. “However, this projection depends on the economic situation and tourist movement in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”

Quoting statistics, the Minister said Sabah received 1.5 million visitors as of November 2022, adding this figure exceeded the target of one million visitors set by the State Government. “This achievement is the outcome of Sabah Tourism Board’s commitment and zeal in implementing Strategic Tourism and Promotion Marketing Plan Post-Pandemic.”

In her keynote address, Liew called for cooperation and teamwork from all members of KePKAS and the six departments/agencies under its jurisdiction to ensure that the Ministry’s vision and mission can be achieved.

These are Sabah Tourism Board (STB), Sabah Parks, Sabah Cultural Board (LKNS), Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Sabah Museum Department and Environmental Protection Department (EPD).

Her mandate is for them to uplift Sabah as a premier eco-tourism destination, and to enhance its image as a clean, healthy and safe state while safeguarding its cultural heritage and environment.

Liew said the Ministry’s mission is to make the tourism industry the main contributor to Sabah’s economy in tandem with the wish of Sabah Maju Jaya. “It is also our responsibility to ensure protection and conservation of a cleaner and secure environment as well as preservation of our natural and cultural heritage for the state’s future.”

She is optimistic that the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) will continue to be the backbone of marketing strategies by boosting tourists’ confidence, assisting tourism industry players, developing the potential of incentive markets and “niche markets” as well as improving air connectivity to Sabah.

The Minister also expressed the hope that this year will see a manifold increase in the number of visitors to museum premises in the state “in line with the opening of entry borders to foreign tourists.”

To ensure the relevance of the cultural sector in Sabah’s cultural development, Liew said several initiatives that need to be drawn up through the Sabah Cultural Board (LKNS) include the Cultural Conservation through eCulture programme, State Cultural Development Plan Project, Sabah Ethnic Day 3.0 and State Ethnic Cultural Mapping Project (2021-2025).

On the issues and challenges, she contended that the impact of shortage of human resources, limited allocations and society’s awareness of the tourism sector has, directly or indirectly, affected efforts to elevate the tourism industry, cultural preservation and environmental conservation.

“I, therefore, urge all departments and agencies under the Ministry to play an important role respectively to ensure that the tourism industry, cultural sector and environmental well-being in Sabah are intensified. This agenda is crucial for socio-economic development, especially in Sabah tourism and for the Malaysian economy.

“While we are occupied in promoting our destinations, we must always bear in mind that there are basic needs that need to be addressed to maintain security and cleanliness of tourism locations in Sabah,” said the Minister.

Meanwhile, Liew called for the empowerment of the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Intelligence Unit that was set up in 2022 to address criminal issues in the interest of wildlife conservation in Sabah. She also wants the department to improve the facilities at the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) in Kinabatangan.

“More importantly, towards minimising human-wildlife conflict, the setting up of an elephant task force in the districts concerned and the creation of a passage corridor for wildlife, particularly elephants, to remain in their habitat without encroaching into human settlements, are among the recommended immediate measures,” she pointed out.

And part of her mission statement is for Sabah Parks to immediately implement its flagship project by building the High Altitude Training Centre atop Mount Kinabalu, while calling for facilities in the Parks to be upgraded accordingly. “Similarly, Pusat Arahan Penguatkuasaan (Enforcement Command Centre) needs to be improved in parallel with technology development.”

According to Liew, the declaration of Geopark Global Kinabalu is expected to take place during the UNESCO General Assembly in April this year. This declaration, she said, will add to UNESCO-owned ‘Triple Crown’ prestigious sites in Sabah, namely Kinabalu World Heritage Site and Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve.

On environmental management, the Minister said she was pleased with Sabah’s strength in terms of its policy and legislation governing this aspect. “The State Environmental Policy that was adopted in 2017 makes Sabah the only state in Malaysia that has such a policy in place after the National Environmental Policy Malaysia 2002.”

KePKAS was reminded to continue maintaining the environment and carrying out sustainable practices in its enthusiasm to promote community-based tourism.

Also present were Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datuk Sr Mohd Yusrie Abdullah, Sabah Tourism Board’s Chief Executive Officer Noredah Othman, SWD Director Augustine Tuuga, Sabah Parks Director Dr Maklarin Lakim, Sabah Museum Director Arif Abdul Hamid,

EPD Director Vitalis Moduying and LKNS General Manager Mackey Apison.