Liaw (5th right) with the donors who supported the charity dinner

KOTA KINABALU: Instead of counting the losses and resorting to cost-cutting due to the adverse effect from the coronavirus (Covid-19).

The Sabah’s tourism industry should treat this as an opportune time to improve their overall services and cleanliness in the touristic sites.

The Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) chairman Dato’s Seri Winston Liaw said although the tourism industry is feeling the pinch now, but they should remain proactive.

“Lots of business establishments such as resorts, hotels, travel agents and other related industry are suffering now as their businesses has gone down by 80 to 90 per cent, whilst those more established one had recorded a drop by 50 per cent,” Liaw said during the SATTA appreciation luncheon on Feb 22, at a restaurant to acknowledge the donors who supported the recent Sabah Government initiated fund raising charity dinner in aid of Covid-19 victims in China.

Now that the hotel and resort rooms occupancy are very low, for example in Semporna which is the Chinese tourists favourite destination, we should use this trying period to refurbish and upgrade the rooms, he suggested.

“Since there are less tourists coming to the attraction sites, we cannot slow down, instead we must seize this opportunity to clean up all the rubbish that is causing eyesore to the environment,” Liaw called.

He cited the popular Boracay Island in the Philippines was closed for six months to clean up all the rubbish and improve all its facilities despite during the high season.

It is also time for the employers of travel agents and others to upgrade the quality services of their employees through the Human Resources Development Fund, instead of laying off the workers, he said.

He cited the China’s government has helped their companies to absorb 20 per cent of their expenditure costs in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

And the Malaysian government is expected to announce a stimulus tourism package next week.

Other than that, Liaw has disclosed that SATTA has been approached by the local tour guides who asked them to help stabilised the pricing rates of the touristic sites offered by its operators.

He said SATTA will act as a mediator to convey their messages to the relevant tourism authorities.

For example, he said there is a price war among the 12 resort operators in Mantanani Island, off the coast of Kota Belud.

“This is also an opportune time for operators to revise their tour pricing as there were many cases of price undercut among the industry players,” he said.

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