Published on: Friday, March 22, 2013
Sandakan: About 2,000 rooms that were booked online with the various hotels here were cancelled following the Suluk terrorist intrusion in Lahad Datu and Semporna recently.
It is feared that the situation would lead to the closure of many businesses.
A newly-opened international-class hotel suffered a great loss when 600 guest rooms booked by foreign tourists over the next few months were cancelled.
Tourism industry player, Datuk John Lim Shau Ket, also revealed that renowned local hotels here incurred huge losses when about 90 arrangements were cancelled within one day on March 6.
"The misleading information disseminated (by foreign countries) contributed to this phenomenon," he said.
Foreign tourists, he said, were given travel advisory by their respective governments that the East Coast of Sabah had turned into a battlefield.
"But the hotspot is actually about 200km from here," he said.
He urged the Federal Tourism Ministry to negotiate with countries that imposed travel advisories through Malaysia's diplomats to lift the ban.
"They must explain to the foreign tourists the actual situation here.
Especially the hotspot in Felda Sahabat, which is well under control by our security forces," he said.
He said even the inbound tours here were badly affected with similar cancellations the past few weeks.
The former Sabah Tourism Board Director said a committee co-named as Sandakan Tourism Association (STA), of which he is protem chairman, has been set up to monitor the situation.
Meanwhile, former Sandakan Municipal Council deputy president, Thomas Lau Chi Keong, said the participation of government departments is vital to stop the rumours that were created by irresponsible elements, including by the media in the Philippines.
Lau said that by ceasing business operations, it would only create panic among the public.
"We must have confidence in our security forces," he said, adding that his cafŽ business dropped by 50 per cent.
Lau advised the people to verify the information they received by checking with the police.