KOTA KINABALU, Oct 30 : The appointment of Datuk Lee Chong Wei as Sabah’s Tourism Ambassador has sparked strong reactions from the public, however, it is not about who was appointed, rather the follow-up actions must produce positive results for Sabah’s tourism industry.
Many expressed unhappiness due to Chong Wei is a Penangite, which was considered an outsider and lacks the knowledge on Sabah attractions.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang however said that it does not matter whether a local or a foreigner is appointed as tourism ambassador, but the ambassador together with the stakeholders must be able to attract tourists – both locally and internationally.
“In fact, the ambassadorship is not limited to one person only as every year Sabah crowns a brand new ambassador in the form of an Unduk Ngadau, where she is expected to represent Sabah as tourism ambassador – among other responsibilities, as well as other individual appointments made by Sabah Tourism Board such as golfer Ben Leong and singer Gary Chaw.
“The decision-makers in appointing ambassadors must also work closely with industry players, especially tour and travel agents, hotel and attraction operators and other players to ensure the entire tourism industry benefits from the appointment of the ambassador as well as to ensure every possible tourism avenue in Sabah are promoted by the ambassador,” he said in a statement.
Tourism industry players are among those hit hardest by the unprecedented pandemic and the road to recovery will be long and steep, therefore industry players will need all the support they can get, especially from a world-renowned badminton champion like Chong Wei. As a matter of fact, with the easing of interstate travel in Peninsular Malaysia, tourism recovery has peaked up compared to Sabah which is now lacking behind.
It is the most opportune time for the government and private sector to join forces in rebuilding our tourism industry just as the whole world is preparing to open up its travel borders once again and Sabah must not miss this train if we want to see any hopes revitalising our industry.
Tour and travel agents have spent decades building their business in promoting the wonders and beauty of Sabah, ensuring every tourist who comes to Sabah get to enjoy and experience the Land Below the Wind to its fullest, equipping them with memories of Sabah’s rich cultural and natural heritage.
“I am sure if industry players brought in to work together with the ambassador, together we can produce the best results in reviving Sabah’s tourism industry as well as to boost our local economic recovery as the “multiplier” effect of tourism extends deep within the local society,”
“We welcome Datuk Lee Chong Wei as our special guest at the forthcoming MATTA Fair to be held on 20-21 November 2021, Kuala Lumpur as Sabah has been selected as Malaysia’s Favourite Destination”, concluded Tan-HS