July 10, 2014, Thursday
Sabah tourism backtracks 10 years , says SATTA
KOTA KINABALU: The tourism sector in Sabah has backtracked by over 10 years due to the recent spate of kidnappings, said Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) chairman Dato’ Seri Winston Liaw.
Liaw said there had been signs that our tourism sector was recovering lately, but then Sabah was hit by another kidnapping attempt by seven armed men at a caged fish farm in Kampung Bangau-Bangau, Semporna on July 7. Fortunately, the owner of the fish farm had spent the night in the town area and escaped from being kidnapped.
Liaw urged the enforcement agencies to ‘talk less, do more’ in their efforts to beef up the security in Sabah. ‘The seven armed men seemed to be going in and out of Sabah waters freely, which shows that there is still much work to be done by our government.”
Nonetheless, Liaw said he was confident with the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom), when asked to comment on its restructuring by setting up two major components – security and defence management as well as enforcement and public action.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the security and defence management component was aimed at pooling the resources of security agencies to enhance operational effectiveness. This component would be led by an ESSCom commander who heads three special divisions, namely intelligence, security and defence as well as operations.
Najib also announced the appointment of ESSCom Security and Public Order Division director DCP Datuk Abd Rashid Harun as the ESSCom commander in charge of the intelligence, security and defence as well as operations division in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) effective July 15.
Liaw believed that having an experienced commander in ESSCom would help to solve security related issues efficiently. He continued to say that the tourism industry in Sabah has backtracked to how it was in 2001 and 2002, before the influx of Chinese tourists into Sabah, due to the recent abduction cases.
To overcome the dwindling number of Chinese tourist arrivals, Liaw, who is also the managing director of Airworld Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd, said the travel agency would provide chartered flights to attract Chinese tourists into the State and to stimulate the local tourism sector.
In addition, Liaw said promotion efforts would be carried out to reassure tourists that the west coast of Sabah is safe to visit in order to speed up the recovery time of the local tourism industry. At the same time, he hoped that locals would support the chartered flight service because without the support from both sides, the chartered flight service to Sabah could not be implemented.
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