Ahead of anticipated teething problems, Sabah’s tourism industry wants a standardised procedure for tourism entries once the country’s borders reopen next month. In a meeting here today to discuss preparedness, industry players said the Sabah government must establish a uniform standard operating procedure (SOP) to facilitate tourist entries to the state.
“Having an SOP that differs from the federal one would just add to the confusion and make things more complicated for tourists,” they said.
Other challenges highlighted were airport congestion, inadequate airport immigration checkpoints, designated quarantine centre for Covid-19 positive travellers and Covid-19 test requirements.
State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai met with captains of industry and enforcement officials earlier today.
Bangkuai, who also chairs the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), said the engagement was crucial to gathering feedback from stakeholders so that adequate preparations could be done before April 1.
“A practical guideline is needed as we prepare for the opening of the national border so that we can better serve tourists and avoid burdening them with obstacles they may encounter upon arrival in the state.
“The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is the most important entry point to Sabah. Therefore, it is critical that all stakeholders express their concerns and points of view so that we can find early solutions to problems that are likely to arise,” he said.
All suggestions will be forwarded by the state ministry to the Covid-19 Command Centre for further deliberation, which then will be highlighted to the National Security Council.
Bangkuai added regular engagement would be carried out from time to time in response to the situation at hand and to improve the quality of service.
Also present were the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datuk Sr Mohd Yusrie Abdullah, Deputy Permanent Secretary II Mary Malangking, STB chief executive officer Noredah Othman, STB chief financial officer Julinus Jeffery Jimit, STB chief marketing officer Tay Shu Lan, and KKIA customs as well as immigration representatives.
Tourism players in attendance were Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang, MAH Sabah Chapter chairman Hafizan Wong, SATTA president Datuk Winston Liaw, MyBHA Sabah Chapter chairman James Ong, Sabah Tourists Association Tonny Chew, and Sabah Tourist Guides Association Grace Leong, among others.
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