China-Sabah Flights Suspension A Bold Move, Says MATTA

KUALA LUMPUR, 31 January 2020 - The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has taken note that all direct flights from China to Sabah have been suspended temporarily until the situation normalises. MATTA understands and respects the state government’s decision.

MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang pointed out “The decision to suspend all China flight routes to and from Sabah is a bold move by the state government and one that is designed to protect the people currently in Sabah including tourists. We hope that this will only be a temporary measure and that this ban will quickly be lifted as soon as the situation subsides and that travel between Sabah and China will resume as normal.”

“MATTA’s position throughout this crisis has been consistent in that we have always placed the health, safety and security of people, both Malaysians and tourists, alike as top priority.”

“The economic repercussions of the flights suspension are very severe to the local tourism industry. However, we are hoping that this move will strengthen public confidence that it is still safe to travel to Sabah and Malaysia as a whole, and that tourism to and from other sectors will not be badly affected," he added.

“There are 83 direct flights per week from Chinese cities to Kota Kinabalu which constitute about 37% of the total international flights into Sabah. Chinese tourists contribute 15% to the tourist arrivals to Sabah.”

Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew has noted that the Chinese government has already banned its own citizens in Wuhan, Xi’an, Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou from travelling abroad and that the Sabah flight suspensions was out of concern over the people's general health and safety.

The epidemic was recently declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a bid to help contain the spread of the virus outside China particularly in countries with weaker health systems. China, which has taken extensive measures to control the epidemic, has received the affirmation of the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the support of the international community. To date there has been no reported cases of the novel coronavirus in Sabah.

“In the meantime, MATTA will be working closely with the state government and other government agencies to facilitate Chinese tourists now stranded in Sabah to return home on behalf of the local tourism industry. MATTA would like to apologise to tourists for the inconvenience," concluded Tan.

President MATTA
Term 2019 – 2021