Sabah needs to beef up security to boost tourists’ confidence, says envoy

Tiong (front left) and Jafry (right) during the visit to Manukan Island. — Borneo Post Online pic
Tiong (front left) and Jafry (right) during the visit to Manukan Island. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KOTA KINABALU, March 8 — The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, has called upon the authorities to increase their enforcement manpower in Sabah in order to bolster the confidence of tourists pertaining to safety and security during their stay here.

Tiong, who also chairs the Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC), said the islands of Sabah had come under the international spotlight due to certain security incidents in the past.

He said episodes such as the kidnappings on the east coast, had caught the attention of the international community, and weakened economic potential.

“However Sabah, with its array of islands, has a global reputation as a tourist holiday hotspot — making it a strong engine for local economic growth.

“Therefore, to continue the explosive growth of the tourism industry and achieve long-term sustainable development, improving public security is a key factor.

“This would not only enhance tourists’ confidence but also attract foreign investors into the tourism sector.”

Tiong said this in a media interview after visiting Manukan Island on Saturday, where he was accompanied by Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Jafry Arifin.

Tiong is leading the MCBC on a seven-day visit to Sabah, which commenced last Wednesday.

“One of the questions that we must think about is how neighbouring Southeast Asian countries with similar geographical environments and climate as our country, have attracted large numbers of tourists in recent years — some recording much higher growth in tourist arrivals than Malaysia.”

Tiong said public security was one of the crucial factors that must be looked into as it was a main concern for tourists.

“In this regard, the authorities must send more military and police personnel to patrol tourist areas and maintain security.”

On another note, Tiong said the coverage of network signal in tourist attractions must also be taken seriously.

As stated by the Sabah Tourism Board, he said the trend of checking-in on social platforms in this Internet age was catalyst for tourism development.

“Neglecting to boost coverage of network signals would make the state less competitive in attracting tourists.”

Tiong added that many travellers hoped to keep in touch with family and friends in distant places at any time, receive update on news and post their latest status on social media.

“Signal strength in tourist attractions must be improved.

“This would make it more attractive for many tourists, and in turn, would lure more foreign investments in.”

Tiong also acknowledged Sabah as ‘being blessed with an abundance of natural resources and unique cultural identity’ — all major selling points for the
state.

Also present was MCBC director Tan Sri TC Goh, who is also president of the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong). — Borneo Post Online

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