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Kota Kinabalu
Ahad, Julai 14, 2024

Practical measures for Sabah tourism recovery plan

Photo : Liew (left) chairing the brainstorming meeting at the Ministry’s Office.

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and its six agencies will be taking practical measures for implementation of the Sabah Tourism Recovery Plan once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Minister Datuk Christina Liew disclosed this after chairing a brainstorming meeting on how to go about it with heads of department from the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), Sabah Cultural Board, Sabah Parks, Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Museum Department and Environment Protection Department on Monday.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Jamili Nais, his Deputy Hajah Mariam Omar Matusin and Principal Assistant Secretary Mary Malangking, who were also present, will spearhead efforts in formulating the proposed Sabah Tourism Recovery Plan for the domestic and international tourism segments.

“We are looking at the bright side in the hope that the recovery plan can be put in place without a hitch by the end of the year or next year. For a start, we will apply to the Ministry of Finance for allocations in our effort to upgrade and improve our existing tourism products, including the infrastructure, and maintenance of all our facilities.

“When the Movement Control Order (MCO) is lifted, we would expect works to begin on improving the Sabah Cultural Centre building (under the purview of Sabah Cultural Board), the Poring Hotspring chalets, Petagas Memorial Hall and the Tawau Hills Park,” said Liew who is also Deputy Chief Minister.

On the international tourism front, the Ministry via Sabah Tourism Board (STB) agreed that attention will shift from mass tourism to high-yielding upmarkets for maximum returns.

At this juncture, STB General Manager Noredah Othman pointed out that digital marketing takes precedence for now, saying international travel roadshows have come to a halt.

To encourage locals to visit Sabah’s tourist hotspots after the movement restriction is over, the meeting came up with the proposal to have 50pc discount for entrance fees at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, State Museum and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park covering five islands.

Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga will oversee maintenance of the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, among other places of attraction within the department’s jurisdiction, while looking into the development of the proposed Elephant Food Corridor in a yet-to-be-identified area within the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Sabah Parks, headed by Dr Maklarin Lakim, will implement coral reef re-generation works during this MCO period (for tourists to savour the wonders of marine life when the pandemic is over). The coral planting project for this year at Simpang Mengayau (Tip of Borneo) will start immediately after the lifting of MCO.

“The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) will continue to engage with stakeholders, both locally and internationally. In getting ready for arrival of tourists in the near future, some of our regular tourism products need a face-lift,” Liew said.

She concurred with the General Manager that the Prince Philip Park needs a facelift while steps will be taken to put up a temporary shelter, toilets and benches for tourists at the Tanjung Aru Beach “as the beautiful sunset there is already a world renowned valuable tourism product.”

The General Manager has been directed to come out with a stimulus plan for the tourism sector in preparation for the post-MCO period. It was generally agreed that the reopening of the tourist sector will take place around the end of 2020.

“The STB will be calling for meetings with the stakeholders such as tour operators, tour and travel groups, Matta, Satta and others.

“I will chair the meeting to hear out input and constructive suggestions from industry players on how to kick-start in our efforts to revive the tourism sector as soon as the MCO is lifted,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Minister urged the Sabah Museum Director Arif Abdul Hamid to continue following up with the proposed natural history museum to be constructed in Sabah with terms to be agreed upon between the Federal Museum Department and Sabah Government, pertaining to the availability of Federal funds amounting to RM180 million, and land to be provided by Sabah Museum.

The Director has been directed to follow up with his counterpart in Kuala Lumpur, and get ready with his information paper soon. Dr Jamili opined that the Natural History Museum will be an added tourist destination.

Upgrading works on tourism products such as the Petagas Memorial Garden, Poring Hotspring chalets and Tawau Hills Park was among the subject matters discussed.

Sabah Cultural Board General Manager, Mansur Asun has been directed to upgrade its Sabah Cultural Centre as soon as the MCO is over.

The General Manager informed the Minister that due to MCO, the Board was organising arts and cultural activities via social media, whereby information on cultural dances, for example, is disseminated on Facebook to enthusiasts under “Info Seni Budaya Sabah”.

“Presently, we are organising the New Talent Competition online, and two days ago, we started TV Lembaga Kebudayaan Negeri Sabah (LKNS),” he said.

Director of Environment Protection Department, Vitalis Moduying affirmed the department’s role in providing input for all development plans, while reiterating that such plans must fulfil the mandatory EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) requirement. Ends