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Kota Kinabalu, March 18: The Tourism, Culture, and Environment Ministry has met with captains of industries and enforcement officials to assess their state of preparedness as well as to identify potential challenges ahead of the opening of the international border on April 1.
Chaired by the Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the concerns highlighted were airport congestion, inadequate airport immigration checkpoints, designated quarantine centre for positive travellers, and COVID-19 test requirement, among others.
In addition, tourism players also suggested the state government establish a standardised standard operating procedure (SOP) to facilitate tourist entry into the state.
They said that having SOP that differed from the federal ones would just add to confusion and make things more complicated for tourists.
Joniston, who also chairs Sabah Tourism Board (STB), said the engagement was critical in gathering feedback from stakeholders so that adequate preparations could be done prior to borders reopening in two weeks time.
“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 into 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 Ministry to the COVID-19 Command Centre for further deliberation, which then will be highlighted to the National Security Council.
Joniston added regular engagement would be carried out from time to time to improve on the current situation and quality of service.
Also present were 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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