KOTA KINABALU, 25 March 2022: The Tourism, Culture, and Environment Ministry met with captains of industries and enforcement officials to assess their preparedness and identify potential challenges ahead of opening borders on 1 April to international visitors.

Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the concerns focused on airport congestion, inadequate immigration checkpoints in airports, a designated quarantine centre for positive travellers, and the Covid-19 test requirement.

In addition, tourism players also suggested the state government establish a standardised standard operating procedure to facilitate tourist entry into the state.

They said that having a standardised operating procedure that differed from the federal ones would add to the 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 to implement adequate preparations before 1 April.

“A practical guideline is needed as we prepare for opening the national border to serve tourists better and avoid burdening them with obstacles they may encounter upon arrival in the state.

“The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is Sabah’s most important entry point. Therefore, all stakeholders must express their concerns and points of view so that we can find early solutions to problems that are likely to arise,” he said.

The Ministry has forwarded all suggestions to the Covid-19 Command Centre for further deliberation before handing them over to the National Security Council.

Joniston added regular engagement would be carried out from time to time to improve 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.

Visit the Sabah Tourism website for more information.


(Your Stories: Sabah Tourism Board)