KOTA KINABALU: Tourism post-Covid-19 is about rebuilding the industry and not about arrivals or tourism receipts, said caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal.
He said the tourism key performance indicator (KPI) in 2021 is therefore about making Sabah a substantial eco-destination and to ensure tourism stakeholders are provided with support and encouragement.
“Tourism, as we know, is the third highest contributor and economic sector of Sabah. We are among the highest performing states in the Malaysia tourism sector. We recorded 4.19 million arrivals in 2019, exceeding our target of 4 million, with an estimate of RM9.01 billion in tourism receipts.
“Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has weakened tourism in Sabah, and we understand the predicaments by the industry players of Sabah. It is now more than ever that we must work together and remain positively strong for these challenges,” he said.
Shafie said this in his speech at the launch of the Sabah Tourism Board Domestic Travel Stimulus. His speech was delivered by caretaker Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew.
The stimulus was part of the second phase of the Covid-19 aid package announced by the state government in June, the Sabah New Deal, worth RM240 million to reactivate, rejuvenate and revitalise the state’s economy due to this pandemic.
“Out of this, RM22 million is specifically allocated to revive the Sabah tourism industry. The state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry has offered RM10 million tourism development grant for tourism players, especially homestay owners and budget hotels as an opportunity for them to upgrade their tourism infrastructure and community-based tourism products.
“RM7 million is set aside to offset the 50 per cent discount on entrance fees at tourist attractions under the Ministry of Tourism Sabah. The Sabah Government also allocated RM5 million in travel incentives and matching grants for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) programmes to aid in Sabah’s tourism promotion incentives.
“Of the RM5 million, RM2 million is the Domestic Travel Stimulus awarded as a financial incentive to Sabah-based tour operators to stimulate domestic travel to Sabah. This will give a boost to the industry players to further intensify their efforts to activate tourism activities in Sabah,” said Shafie.
Under the Domestic Travel Stimulus, he said all Sabah-based licensed tour operators selling domestic tour packages which include accommodation, transportation and tours are eligible to an incentive of RM50 per traveller as per criteria set by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah.
The State Tourism Ministry had also intensified the Sabah tourism promotional efforts online and offline by featuring attractive destinations in Sabah. Taking advantage of the digital platform, digital sales campaigns were also initiated for the industry to reach out to locals to influence more domestic travelling, he added.