KOTA KINABALU, Sept 12 ― A Sabah minister called today for a revision of travel advisories against the east coast of the state in light of improved security.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that the tourism arrivals in Sabah’s east coast is testament of the increased confidence in its security and urged foreign countries like the United States to review the advisory.
“We have had continuous arrivals from foreign tourists like Americans, Australians and British over the last few years, even though it is to the west coast which is not covered by the advisory,” he said.
“But the security situation has improved by leaps and bounds, so perhaps time it is high time to relook and advise accordingly,” he said at a press conference here today after attending the opening ceremony of a maritime security workshop organised by the US embassy.
Previously, Masidi said that the east coast town of Semporna saw a massive influx of some 1,000 tourist arrivals per day, mostly to visit one of the many islands on the town’s fringes.
Last year saw Sabah hit a record number of tourist arrivals at 3.43 million with China and Korea contributing the most people. Australia was also an emerging market.
Masidi also said that joint security exercises by the US and Malaysian military here reflected the authorities’ interest in the safety of its people.
Last year, several countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand issued or upgraded advisories to its citizens against travelling to Sabah’s east coast due to the “high threat of terrorism” along its coastal areas.
Several years ago, kidnapping incidents by groups operating in the southern Philippines had shaken the tourism industry and incited fear of kidnapping and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism.
There has been no reports of tourist kidnapping since 2014.