KOTA KINABALU, April 14 — The increase in flight ticket prices to Sabah by up to 500 per cent is feared to adversely affect its tourism sector recovery after the reopening of the country’s borders last April 1.

State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Jafry Ariffin said international as well as domestic tourists could only visit Sabah via flights and if the air ticket prices were unreasonable or too high, it could affect the number of tourist arrivals in the “Land Below the Wind”.

“With the reopening of the country’s borders, we expect to receive up to 1.3 million tourists to Sabah.

“We’ve just gone through the movement control order and an economy badly affected (by the Covid-19 pandemic) and now come the high flight ticket prices.

“This will surely affect our tourism industry in terms of tourist arrivals in Sabah,” he told reporters after a breaking-of-fast event organised by the ministry, here, today.

Jafry said his ministry had also received complaints from Sabahans following the flight ticket price increase as this would hamper their return to their hometowns or villages for the Hari Raya celebration this year.

“For example, the ticket price for the flight today alone from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau has gone up to RM1,300. This is ridiculous and too high whereas usually, it has been RM100 to RM300.

“Therefore, I hope the relevant parties will look into this matter and I believe the current government will listen to the voice of the rakyat (people),” he added.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor reportedly said that the Sabah government would urge the federal government through the Transport Ministry to find ways to reduce the price of the flight tickets.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the increase of the federal government’s special grant for Sabah, Jafry said it showed the good relations between both governments and he hoped the allocation could be used to boost development in the state.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Hajiji in their joint statement today said the giving of the new special grant to Sabah was an increase by 4.7 times to RM125.6 million for 2022 from RM26.7 million previously. — Bernama