KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board (STB) would be discussing with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) office here on the need to urgently facilitate a fast-track Covid-19 vaccination for tourism-related workers in Sabah.
STB Chairman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, said such was part of a concerted effort to hasten the re-opening of the state’s tourism industry.
“It has been brought to our attention that the number of vaccinated tourism workers and frontliners is still very low and this could hamper the safe reopening of Sabah’s tourism industry,” he said.
Such a need is in tandem with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor’s assurance of ramping up vaccination with a target of about 60 percent vaccination rate in Sabah by October to achieve herd immunity by the end of this year.
The vaccination for the tourism sector should include, among others, hotel staff, tour operators, boatmen, rural tourism workers, rafting guides, tour bus drivers, and divers.
“Once tourism workers are vaccinated, it will enhance inter-state travel,” said Bangkuai when chairing the Board’s Tourism Committee meeting conducted virtually yesterday.
The Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment said the meeting recognised that a safe reopening of the tourism industry is crucial in complying with strict health protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Towards this STB would be discussing with stakeholders to look into independent external Green Tourism certification and introducing Covid-19 insurance policy for visitors’ confidence.
Bangkuai said STB is mindful of the need for regular and constant public-private sector engagement and supporting tourism Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during these hard times as well as supporting tourism infrastructure by giving grants for refurbishment works.
He said the State Tourism Recovery Committee, composed of captains of industries, would be meeting next week to deliberate and revisit the Tourism Recovery Road Map drawn up after the first meeting of the committee late last year.
“Once the pandemic is under control, STB will embark into more aggressive marketing and promotions to tap into business and leisure travel segments,” he added.
Noting the announcement by MOTAC that Kuching, Langkawi, Pangkor Island, and Fraser Hills have been identified as Malaysia’s pilot projects on the travel bubble, Bangkuai called for Kota Kinabalu to also be included.
It was decided at the meeting that STB would be supporting high-impact events like the national MATTA Fair in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 20, in which Sabah is featured as the preferred domestic destination for Malaysia, and the two-week SATTA Virtual Tourism Mart starting Sept 16.
Among the matters discussed at the meeting was Sabah’s proposed plan and action in gearing-up towards the re-opening of the State’s tourism industry which has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was also highlighted at the meeting that destination awareness is still important to constantly remind people of Sabah as a destination, during this period where travel is limited.
Hence, STB has been resilient in crafting marketing reach in spite of the changes in SOP and the inability to travel.
STB has continuously reached out to partners in key markets around the globe to keep close rapport as well as to understand the preparedness of outbound from these destinations.
The most recent campaigns include the #EnchantingSabahLive Sessions which presents an array of topics and also showcases tourist attractions in Sabah.
Tourism industry members will be informed of upcoming engagements via their respective associations.