KOTA KINABALU, 4 August 2021: The Sabah Tourism Recovery Committee held its second meeting Wednesday to firm up a comprehensive roadmap for the gradual reopening of the state’s tourism industry.

The meeting, which lasted more than three hours, was also an opportunity to again engage and reconnect with the current situation of the tourism industry players in Sabah.

Chaired by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman (STB) Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the meeting emphasised four main components towards readiness to open for tourism. The committee agreed that all tourism industry players must be vaccinated and detailed plans to establish travel bubble packages must be in place.

It was also suggested that Covid-19 insurance should be included in tour packages to cover travellers, and a green accreditation certification should be up and running.

In attendance in the meeting initiated by STB were representatives from Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry (KePKAs) ; Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC); Tourism Malaysia Sabah; Sabah Tourist Association (STA); Sabah Tourist Guide Association; Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents; Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents; Malaysia Association of Hotels; Malaysia Budget and Business Hotel Association; Persatuan Pemandu Pelancong Bumiputera; and Federation of Rural Tourism Association.

MOTAC represented by Ibrahim Othman relayed that the vaccination for tourism players will be done by zones starting with Kota Kinabalu and potentially Ranau or Semporna.

MOTAC Sabah has also written to the state government to consider including the list in the current herd immunisation program.

As for the travel bubble packages, the associations have been advised to work together to present several feasible suggestions.

Director of Tourism Malaysia Sabah Mohd Faharuddin Hatmin reiterated that in order for the travel bubble to work, the packages offered should be a seamless point to point journey for the travellers. 

Sabah Tourist Association chairman Tonny Chew suggested that the Ministry assists to source insurance options.

On this, Bangkuai concurred the importance of the coverage as matters such as quarantine and hospitalisation might continue to be in effect as long as Covid-19 prevails.

Meanwhile, KePKAs’ new Permanent Secretary Yusrie Abdullah suggested the setting up of a sub-committee to focus on developing criteria for the proposed Green Accreditation Certification that will be made compulsory for all local tourism operators.

This is to ensure that the industry has a standardised SOP and safety checklist adhered to prior to reopening.

“This will provide travellers confidence that our destination is safe for travel,” he said.

The meeting also emphasised the need to conduct frequent engagement sessions as the industry gears up towards reopening to ensure everyone is ready, especially in terms of implementing SOP.

It has been projected that Sabah will be able to achieve 60% herd immunity by October, which will also allow tourism to reopen.

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