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KOTA KINABALU, April 6 — The Sabah government’s move to allow interdistrict travel according to zones during the recovery movement control order (RMCO) has begun boosting the domestic tourism sector in the state, says Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.
He said hotels, resorts and tourist spots in Sabah received encouraging response from locals, to the extent that some bookings had to be rejected, especially in the rural areas.
“Occupancy rates in some resorts around the Kota Kinabalu have reached up to 70 per cent, especially during weekends and the recent school holidays. Rural tourist spots are also always full as capacity (visitors) is limited according to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“This shows that the local community is aware that Sabah has many interesting tourist places to visit, especially in the rural areas,” he told Bernama here.
In March, Sabah allowed interdistrict travel within zones under the RMCO, with Zone One involving Kota Kinabalu, Kota Belud, Ranau, Tuaran, Penampang, Putatan and Papar; Zone Two covering Beaufort, Kuala Penyu and Sipitang, and Zone Three involving Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas.
Meanwhile, Zone Four involves Sandakan, Beluran, Kinabatangan and Tongod; Zone Five covers Tawau, Semporna, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Kalabakan while Zone Six comprises Keningau, Tambunan and Tenom.
Joniston said Sabah was optimistic that the state’s tourism would gradually recover after being reopened in stages, with the main focus on strengthening domestic tourism.
“We can already receive (local) tourists, and of course, they (tour operators) are eagerly waiting for the border to be opened for tourists from other states and abroad.
“The awareness among tour operators in Sabah to comply with the SOP is there, and from our observation, the compliance rate with the SOP is very high,” he added. — Bernama