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Kota Kinabalu
Sabtu, September 30, 2023

Preserve Agnes Keith House as historical destination, Government told

Liew (left) with a poor villager after handing over a bag of rice and a food pack. At right is Lucy Lo who is the Women Bureau Head under the Tawau Parliamentary People’s Service Centre.

TAWAU: Former State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Christina Liew has expressed shock and disbelief over the present Government’s plan to convert the Agnes Keith House into a ‘dark tourism’ product.

She urged the Government to review its plan, and instead, focus on utilising its resources and marketing strength to promote Sabah as a safe and vibrant destination for tourists post-pandemic.

Liew, who is also Tawau MP, said the Agnes Keith House is acclaimed internationally as a historical and educational destination for tourists from long-haul markets and cruise ships, and not as a destination for ‘dark tourism’. 

According to her, since its establishment in 2004, the Agnes Keith House has been an extremely popular tourist destination with tourists from all over the world, particularly those from the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and European countries.This historical landmark, which is a key feature of the Sandakan City Tour and Sandakan Heritage Tour, is also a great attraction to locals, she said.

“Promoting ghost or haunting tours is not a trend in the Malaysian market. Who would want to come all the way to Sabah just to stay the night at the historic house museum?

“The Government should continue efforts to promote Sabah as a leading destination for nature, eco, adventure and wildlife tours, apart from historical, golfing and medical tourism.

“For now, the Government ought to prioritise the revival of the tourism industry which has been paralysed by the prolongedCOVID-19 pandemic,” Liew told reporters after distributing food aid to members of the Chinese and Muslim communities here on Tuesday.

She also stressed that the legacy of the American author, Agnes Keith should be honoured and respected as a heritage site.

On Sunday, current State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Jafry Ariffin told reporters that the Sabah Government was looking into promoting a different kind of dark tourism to boost the State’s tourism industry.

This new product mooted by the Sabah Museum Department, he said, would entice more tourists to visit the Agnes Keith House.

Meanwhile, tourism players, who declined to be named, said the past promotional efforts by three former tourism ministers – Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and Datuk Christina Liew – would be in vain if the Government pushed through its plan to turn the Agnes Keith House into a destination for dark tourism.

“All their hard work will be destroyed overnight,” they lamented.