Travel industry players brace for tougher times in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Imposing restrictions in red zones or areas with a high number of Covid-19 cases in Sabah is the right move, say tour associations.

Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) president Datuk Winston Liaw said while it was unfortunate that Covid-19 cases were spreading fast in Sabah's east coast, the government did the right thing to enforce a targeted enhanced movement control order (MCO) at the badly affected areas.

He said the tourism industry could only start to recover again when the country's Covid-19 cases returned to single digits.

He added that even after it went down to the single digit mark, tourists should wait and see for another one month, ensuring that it was safe to travel before they start to make

Liaw said the government should look closely at the situation in Sabah's west coast and consider implementing the conditional movement control order in areas where needed.

"This is to ensure the virus is contained and not spread to other districts or other areas. As the spread is too fast, we urge the government to act immediately without further delay to ensure the safely of Sabahans."

He said the tourism industry had started to slowly recover starting July and August due to the push for domestic travels but it was going down again due to the spike in cases.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said a lockdown was needed if cases continued to increase.

'The economy and tourism sector will be affected but by now, I think all industry players have started to accept that they will be hit one way or another and continue to suffer until the situation gets better," he said.

"So now, what we're hoping for is for the extension of the moratorium, at least till the end of the year and to get assistance from the government to help sustain our businesses,"
he added.

Sabah Tourism Board general manager Noredah Othman said they were in touch with industry players as well as their associations.

She said there were more cancellations as well as postponements from their clients from Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak due to the cases in Sabah.

"Naturally, it's a setback for domestic tourism," she said.