KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment welcomed the allocation of more than RM100 million in the National Budget 2021 tabled in Dewan Rakyat Friday by Finance Minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

Its Minister, Datuk Jafry Ariffin (pix) commented that it was a realistic budget to meet the current situation, especially the tourism sector badly affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

He assured the allocation will be utilised as best as possible in line with the ministry’s efforts in reviving the tourism industry so that it remain resilient until the COVID-19 pandemic is contained.

Jafry also expressed his gratitude that the tourist guides in Sabah along with traders, hawkers and the drivers of taxi, e-hailing and cab would be given RM1,000 under the special caring grant.

“This is certainly be a piece of good news to all of them as they had lost their source of income since March this year when the movement control order was imposed,” he said.

According to him, the once lively tourist stalls teeming with both domestic and foreign visitors has been deserted  and reduced to window dressing.

On the RM50 million allocation for maintaining and upgrading tourism facilities nationwide, Jafry is confident Sabah is able to attract more visitors when the existing infrastructures are improved in near future.

Jafry has seen for himself the deplorable conditions of some touristic sites under the Sabah Parks during the working visit to Sepilok’s orang utan rehabilitation centre, Gomantong cave and the Turtles Island Park in Sandakan recently.

He was accompanied by Sabah Parks director Maklarin Lakim and Sabah Tourism Board general manager Noredah Othman.-HS

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