KOTA KINABALU, Dec 13 — The Sabah government is open to ideas as well as proposals from private stakeholders, and will evaluate them for further study to ensure greater tourism success in the industry, said state Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

He said the ideas and proposals of private stakeholders are critical to revitalising Sabah’s tourism industry, which has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We need to understand each other. There are numerous requests, but the government has limitations as well. What matters is that we come up with a consensus.

“If there’s a need for us to make a recommendation to the federal government for the state tourism industry, let us do it together,” he said at the Engagement Session with Tourism Players for 2022 here, today.

Joniston, who is also chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), said the recent decision to lift the mandatory swab test for fully vaccinated visitors to Sabah was an example of a good understanding between industry players and state government.

AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) made the proposal last month, and it was duly brought to the attention of Chief Minister, Datuk Hajiji Noor.

“The Chief Minister thought it was a good idea and discussed it further with the state secretary. When the industry players make recommendations, we present them to the state government with justification and reasoning.

“This is an example of how we can try to better understand and collaborate with each other’s needs. We hope that through this engagement session, we can come together to revive strategy to bring tourism back into the mainstream, while instilling responsible practices for the industry,” he said.

The objective of the engagement session is based on the four pillars: building consumer’s confidence; supporting the industry; rebuilding connectivity; and enhancing potential segments.

These four pillars are the guideline towards Sabah’s tourism recovery, which was unanimously agreed during the Tourism Recovery Committee meeting held by STB, with the state’s key tourism industry players, in August this year.

“I urge the industry players to be open in contributing ideas and recommendations so that we can all have a fruitful and beneficial outcome,” he said, adding that, at the same time, tourism industry players are encouraged to continue coming up with new ideas revolving around digital innovations and collaboration. — Bernama