Sabah hoteliers remain optimistic despite US advisory

Gordon Seet (left), the Sabah and Labuan chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, and his new media liaison committee.

KOTA KINABALU: Hoteliers in the state remain confident that business will recover well despite an unfavourable travel advisory issued by the US State Department.

State tourism officials had put in much effort to counter the effects of being placed on the State Department’s “K” list, said.Gordon Seet, the Sabah and Labuan chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

He said the hospitality and tourism business has recorded consistent yearly growth in the number of arrivals and in occupancy rates, as a result of more direct flights from various major cities to Sabah, and efforts at tourism promotion in Europe, Australasia, East Asia and other places.

Efforts to promote Tawau via its “Cuti-Cuti Tawau” campaign launched in March was a positive step towards boosting travel confidence to the state’s east coast, Seet said.

“These efforts have started to reignite tourism activities for the east coast and Sabah as a whole,” he said. A continuous drive would turn things around in tourism as well as the larger business community.

The US travel advisory was issued on April 9 over concerns about kidnappings in certain parts of the country. Seet said incidents (of cross-border crimes) in past years had an adverse effect on Sabah’s east coast but MAH was confident that the police and Eastern Sabah Security Command are continuously ensuring the security of these areas at all times.

Tourism Malaysia chairman Ahmad Shah Hussein Tambakau has also said that tourist arrivals in Sabah have not been hit despite the travel advisory, but Malaysia wanted the US to remove it from the “K” list as this could influence the perceptions of other nations.