Sabah tourism minister: Just one per cent of travel-related firms closed shop from MCO

Datuk Jafry Ariffin speaks to the media during a press conference in Tawau February 26, 2021. — Bernama pic
Datuk Jafry Ariffin speaks to the media during a press conference in Tawau February 26, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KOTA KINABALU, Oct 15 – Only one per cent of tourism operations have permanently shuttered owing to the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown, said state Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Jafry Arifin.

He said that according to a survey done by the Sabah Tourism Board on the tourism industry recently, only a small percentage had to completely cease operations.

“Some 48 per cent have to close down temporarily following the movement control order (MCO) while some 45.5 per cent were still fully operational,” he said in a statement here today.

Industry insiders were sceptical to hear of the figures and said it was likely the actual numbers were much higher, but without official data from relevant bodies, they could not verify it.

Sabah has relied heavily on its tourism industry, recording a total of 4,195,903 tourist arrivals with estimated tourism receipts of RM9.01 billion in 2019, and the global lockdown of borders have caused many tourism workers to be laid off in the last 18 months.

Meanwhile, Jafry said that the lifting of the interstate and interdistrict travel will see an uptick in economic activities and the ministry was coming up with new and aggressive promotions to help revive the flagging tourism industry.

He named virtual exhibitions of Sabah, social media campaigns and partnering up with international bodies for promotions.

He said the ministry was also offering incentives to encourage domestic tourism and the MICE industry.

“Everyone should know that to rehabilitate the sector to the way it was before the pandemic is not easy,” he said, adding that the opening of interstate borders would at least provide some respite.

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