KOTA KINABALU: President of the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) Tan Sri T.C Goh has called on the federal government to assist Sabah to revive its tourism industry.
This includes implementing tourism bubble programmes at suitable tourist destinations.
He said, the tourism industry is the main revenue earner for the state and a key sector for many Sabahans whose livelihood depended on it, besides being a main thrust for many spin-off industries.
He thus proposed the federal government and the state government to work closely to roll out tourism bubble programmes, like the one implemented in Pulau Langkawi, recently, to allow tour operators to resume tourism activities in selected tourist destinations, by complying with standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Goh who is also a member of Sabah Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) and President of the Federation of Sabah and Labuan Hokkien Associations (FSLHA) proposed this in a statement issued today.
He was responding to the policy speech delivered by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin during the opening of the state legislative assembly sitting on Tuesday, in which he acknowledged that the tourism sector which is one of Sabah’s major economic contributors, was among the worst hit.
Goh especially welcomed and supported Juhar’s call urging all quarters involved to give their full support to the state government’s initiative under the Sabah Tourism Recovery Roadmap, as a guideline to revive this sector, where it includes developing basic tourism facilities especially in rural areas.
He added that, in order to ensure an effective revival of Sabah tourism sector, besides the state government’s own efforts, it is also crucial to have federal government’s full support and cooperation, such as introducing tourism-friendly policies, to allocate more development funds to upgrade existing tourism facilities to better attract tourists to visit Sabah, etc.
He also shared Juhar’s concern that tourism arrivals into Sabah last year was only 977,460, compared to 4.2 million arrivals in 2019, which is a 76.7% reduction; and that for the first six months of 2021, the figure dropped by 85.2% to 108,862 compared to 736,921 in the same period in 2020. Tourism receipts for this period also suffered a decline of 88%, garnering only RM174mil compared to RM1.45bil in the same period last year.
Goh said such a concern is a legitimate one as the ongoing dire situation affecting the tourism sector has inevitably adversely impacted on various spin-off industries, such as the hotel industry, food and beverages, transportation, logistics, handicrafts, etc.
He hoped the state government, through the Sabah Tourism Recovery Roadmap initiative, could strive to engage with the state’s tourism industry players and to gather more feedback from them, so as to formulate tourism policies which are comprehensive and effective, towards reviving the tourism sector.
He further hoped that the federal government could through the coming Budget 2022 or the 12th Malaysia Plan (12 MP) boost the allocations of tourism development funds for Sabah, so that it could enhance its tourism development and promotion.
He also supported Juhar’s call urging the state government to review the existing Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint (2008 – 2025), and to formulate the new and better 2.0 version, in order to better achieve the goals outlined in the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) development plan.
He especially hoped that the Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint 2.0 (2020 – 2030) could have full support of the soon-to-be-tabled 12th MP, and facilitate allocations of more development funds and necessary resources from the federal government, so that Sabah could realise the intended goals of the Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint 2.0 by 2030, together with the “2030 Shared Prosperity” vision set by the federal government.
Goh underscored that, to achieve the envisioned goals, both the federal and the state governments must strive to strengthen cooperation with each other. This is in order to boost infrastructure developments in Sabah, especially to expedite the completion of the long-overdue Pan Borneo Highways project, boosting of basic amenities like power and water supply in the interior areas, development of industrial parks, and to better attract foreign investors to bring in high technologies and to create high-impact economy.
Besides this, he also welcomed and supported Juhar’s remark that, in line with the national policy of maintaining at least 50% of forested areas, the state government is determined to achieve the target of maintaining 65% of forested areas in Sabah. He described such a move as a move in the right direction to better protect and conserve Sabah’s unique and invaluable nature for the coming generations.