Open Sabah borders to foreign visitors to recovery of tourism sector


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah should open its borders to full vaccinated foreign visitors to begin the recovery of the state ailing tourism industry.

Sabah Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) Chairman Tan Sri David Chu said the foreign visitors include tourists, investors and students, among others should be allowed to enter the state without the requirement for quarantine.

He said Sabah must follow the steps taken by other Southeast Asian countries to open their borders to foreigners to help kick-start the tourism sector.

He said the government’s tourism recovery plan focuses on domestic tourism will not do much to revive the industry badly hurt by Covid-19 pandemic.

Chu cited the Philippines, Bali, Thailand and Sydney have started to welcome quarantine-free foreigners for fully vaccinated visitors.

Since Sabah was the top market source for China before the pandemic struck, we should allowed their nationals back without the need to quarantine, he suggested.

He said the standard operating procedures should be relaxed to allow them to enter so long they are fully vaccinated and body temperature checks upon arrival.

Chu said Sabah should also resume the China direct flights as there were about 125 services weekly before the pandemic while we should also remember the South Korean market which was also a top contributor to the state.

Statistics showed 593,623 Chinese tourists visited Sabah in 2018, followed by South Koreans with 337,100.

The arrival of foreign tourists will benefit the hotels, shopping complexes, eateries and thousands will be re-employed including tourist guides, bus and van drivers.-HS

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