Sabah tourism players aim 'healthy ecosystem' for statewide travel bubble status

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism stakeholders in Sabah are looking at turning the entire state into a travel bubble destination.

Sabah Tourist Association (STA) chairman Tony Chew said the government has allowed inter-zone travel within the state using the services of tour companies.

However, the industry requires more volume especially from outside the state to cover the operation costs.

For now, he said it was not possible to ask the government to lift the travel restrictions that are meant to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"A travel bubble is a good idea. But for now, we are lacking in terms of the linkage on how to transfer one person from one point to another.

"Everyone is doing their things on their own," he said, adding that the linkages would include the adherence of SOP according to services provided by stakeholders.

Chew added that the vision does not only involve hoteliers and tour operators, but also transporters, tour guides, ride-hailing services and restaurateurs among others to build up a green channel to link up two green-zone destinations.

He said the more stakeholders took part in the integrated plan, the travel bubble throughout the state could be a solution in reviving the industry.

"For it to happen, we also need a bigger platform which is the Sabah Tourism Federation in doing the planning including to have underwriting services for Covid-19 travelling insurance.

"We also need an emergency plan (for the linkages) on what to do when a customer suddenly develops Covid-19 symptoms, such as what kind of precautions to take? Whether to continue with the scheduled trips? What about your drivers and staff?"

Earlier, STA's member Mohd Firdaus Ermand, who is a tour guide, brought home RM1,000 cash and a pair of MASwings air tickets for his song entry titled "Tidurlah Sayang" inspired by his young daughter.

A nature guide N. Dairy Joy, who works in Sandakan submitted a documentary titled "Kinabatangan is the river of life" which won him the second prize of RM750 cash.

Third place winner Ng Eng Seng@Amy received RM250 cash for dancing, singing and playing the harmonica.

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