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KOTA KINABALU, Feb 19 — Although sympathetic to the plight of tourism players in the state whose businesses have been suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sabah government believes the time has not come to allow inter-district and interstate travel yet.
Sabah Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that the state was concerned about the struggling tourism industry but had to prioritise its battle against the coronavirus.
“We must understand that the inter-district travel ban contributed to the reduction in daily Covid-19 cases, in Sabah at least.
“We understand the plight of the industry, and we will look into it and find a way out. But the overriding concern is to win the war against the pandemic, which we are doing,” he said.
He added that the National Security Council was tasked with looking into the appeals from the industry.
“We know that the problem for the tourism industry lies in inter-state and inter-district travel. I believe the government will weigh seriously the demands of the tourism industry,” he said.
“Like all SOPs, we are constantly reviewing them and we will consider this for domestic tourism,” said Masidi, who is also the state minister of local government and housing.
Sabah today recorded 101 new Covid-19 cases. The number of cases has hovered in this region for about a week, after reaching a peak of over 1,000 in November last year.
The state’s private sector was heavily reliant on its tourism industry, with the industry itself relying heavily on foreign tourists, especially from China. Approximately 4.2 million tourists visited Sabah in 2019, garnering about RM9 billion in tourism receipts.