Sabah is hoping for international borders to be opened to bring the tourism industry back to its glory days.
The state's former Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the industry was important and one of the biggest job creators in the state.
He added due to the pandemic, it was inevitable that many people and businesses were affected .
"As a former tourism minister, many friends from overseas are asking when they can come to Sabah. It shows Sabah has tremendous potential as a tourism destination.
"If the borders reopen, the industry will rise. We really hope it will open up soon," he told reporters at the Sabah International Convention Centre, here.
Earlier, Masidi, who is also state Local Government and Housing Minister and Finance Minister II, represented Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor in handing over financial assistance to religious and educational institutions.
In 2019, Sabah raked in an estimated tourism receipt of RM9.01 billion with 4,195,903 tourist arrivals. One of the factors that contributed to the success was direct and chartered international flights to Sabah.
Last month, Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri had said that international tourists can visit other states in Malaysia via Langkawi.
The following inter-state travel, however, is subject to a minimum seven days in Langkawi and the latest national policy on international travellers.
When asked whether the emergence of new Covid-19 variants, including Omicron, would affect the situation, Masidi said people have to learn to live with the virus.
"I believe with the advance of medical science, I'm sure they will come up with an 'antidote' that will curb or turn Covid-19 into a flu-like virus.
"For now, we have to conform with the health regulations and standard operating procedures," said Masidi, who is also Sabah Covid-19 spokesperson.
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