KOTA KINABALU, June 30 — The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (Matta) wants Covid-19 vaccinations to be expedited for frontliners of the Sabah tourism industry.
Its president Datuk Tan Kok Liang backed state Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin’s call to set aside a special quota of the Covid-19 vaccine for tourism players in the state.
“We support his request in addition to the 1.8 million doses of vaccine in July and August 2021 for Sabah which will expedite the National Immunisation Programme instead of waiting until year end.
“Tourism destinations like Langkawi and Kuching have more or less completed the vaccination programme for its tourism workers. Why not do the same for certain key tourism entry points like Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau?” he said.
Tan said that fast tracking vaccination programmes for tourism frontliners in these areas is the key driver to the tourism revival plan which will subsequently benefit the economy at large.
Tan said that the tourism industry in Sabah, which was at its peak before the Covid-19 pandemic, is at breaking point as the hardest hit in the country due to its geographical location which is heavily dependent on air travel.
Matta had earlier also made a call for action, saying that the journey to recovery for Sabah tourism must begin now rather than wait until the end of the year when business may no longer recover.
“The state must be prepared to receive domestic travellers once travel restrictions are lifted as it will definitely see a surge in business and leisure traffic.”
“Matta has always advocated for tourism workers to be given priority taking into consideration that the tourism industry employs 3.5 million workers nationwide. Sabah recorded a total of 4,195,903 tourist arrivals with estimated tourism receipts of RM9.01 billion in 2019 and, as a leading tourism destination in Malaysia, should be given due consideration by the federal government with respect to vaccinations.
He said that many highly skilled tourism workers in Sabah have been out of a job for most of the last 15 months.