KOTA KINABALU,Feb 19: Sabah tourism players have called for the lifting of the inter-district and interstate travel ban after the government allowed tourism activities to resume in states under the recovery and conditional movement control orders.
Sabah Tourist Association (STA) chairman Tonny Chew said giving the green light for tourism activities but not doing away with the ban was no help.
Sabah Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) chairman Lawrence Chin said tourism activities would “cease to exist” if people were still not permitted to travel across districts and states.
“Most of Sabah’s tourist destinations are located in different districts. As such most hotel guests are from another district as well as from other states,” Chin said.
“Tour and hotel operators, restaurants, coffee shops and eateries will continue to suffer despite the government granting flexibility in the number of dine-ins and passengers allowed in a vehicle during the CMCO.
“The lifting of these travel bans is crucial to save the hospitality business in Sabah.”
Senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced yesterday that tourism activities could resume in RMCO and CMCO states. Sabah will shift into the CMCO stage from today to March 4.
Ismail said attractions such as nature parks, museums and outdoor theme parks could welcome visitors and audiences once more but with strict SOPs in place.
Kinabatangan Corridor of Life Tourism Operators Association (Kita) president Alex Yee said the ban on inter-state travel had damaged the tourism business in the state.
Yee said while the travel bans had proven to be effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19 previously, the authorities needed to take a different approach now with tourism having resumed.
He said Sabah only had a small domestic population base spread across the second largest state in the country.
“With the inter-district and state travel ban, the already low unsustainable population will not be able to support local businesses,” he said
Former Umno federal minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan had also previously urged the government to lift both bans to help rejuvenate the tourism industry in Sabah and Sarawak.
Rahman said allowing Malaysians in the peninsula to travel to both states and vice-versa without the need for police permits or special approval could help promote domestic tourism.