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Impact worse than MH370
Published on: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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Kuala Lumpur: The repeated kidnapping incidents in Sabah have given negative impact to Malaysia's tourism sector, especially in the number of tourist arrivals from China.In fact, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (pic) said the impact given by the incidents was worse than the case of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

As at April, 76 flights from China to Kota Kinabalu were cancelled, 10 of which were MAS flights from Shanghai, 22 were China Southern Airlines flights from Shenzen and 44 were Spring Airlines flight from Shanghai, he said in reply to Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) at the Dewan Rakyat sitting.

"I agree with Yang Berhormat's opinion that the kidnapping incidents in Sabah had given a far worst impact to the country's tourism sector compared to the effects of the MH370 tragedy.

"From April this year to 2015, the number of tourist arrivals to Malaysia is expected to decline... and 30,000 potential tourists from China are expected to cancel or postpone their visits to Malaysia," Mohamed Nazri said.

As such, Mohamed Nazri said all quarters, including Sabah government and the Home Ministry, should work closely to restore public confidence, especially among foreign tourists, that Sabah is a safe place to visit.

On Monday, a fish breeder and his worker were abducted by two armed men in Kampung Sapang, west of Pulau Timbun Mata, Semporna, marking the third kidnapping incident in the east coast of Sabah this year and fourth in six months.

On May 6, five armed men abducted a 34-year-old Chinese manager of a fish breeding company in Pulau Batik in Lahad Datu, just a month after a Chinese national and a Filipino resort worker were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort off Semporna.

Last November, a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead and his companion kidnapped and taken to Southern Philippines.

In a bid to balance the decline in the number of tourist arrivals from China, Mohamed Nazri said the ministry had underlined short-term strategy through Tourism Malaysia by increasing promotional campaign in medium-haul markets.

"The Ministry has also increased its campaign in other countries, including Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippine, India, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Australia and New Zealand," he said.

Apart from that, a crisis management committee had also been set up by Tourism Malaysia to tackle China's tourism market and to interact actively with the tourism players in China to restore their confidence to visit Malaysia, he added.

Meanwhile, DAP's Kota Kinabalu MP, Jimmy Wong, said Sabah is becoming Asia's Somalia, referring to the failed African state well-known for pirates, abductions and ransom money.

" Are we going to be Somalia in Asia?" asked Wong.

Wong said it was worrying to see so many abductions taking place in Sabah in such a short time especially in the east coast area which would cause the tourism sector in Sabah to face huge losses and some might go through bankruptcy if this continued to happen.

Wong who is also DAP Sabah Chairman said it had clearly shown how abduction cases which repeatedly take place had left a big dent on the Sabah economy, particularly tourism.

He said according to statistics given by the Government, the tourism sector in Sabah currently contributes about 20 per cent of the GDP to the state.

If abduction cases continued to ruin Sabah and security problems cannot be resolved as soon as possible, he feared that more than 50 per cent of hotels and resorts would face financial problems.

It would then affect the workforce and the unemployment rate will climb, he said.

Therefore, the government must really look this problem seriously, he said, adding that despite much efforts being done, so little outcome can be seen.

He said as a parliamentarian he has taken part in the debate to urge the government to fix the problem immediately but somehow there was no improvement despite big allocations used to increase the assets in Esscom.

He suggested that a bi-partisan select committee be set up to study Esscom and the whole Sabah security system problem thoroughly.

He also urged the Government to consider Pakatan Rakyat's suggestions as stated in the memorandum which had been submitted to the Prime Minister earlier.



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