Lower air fares will encourage domestic tourism – Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysians prefer to holiday overseas as they get better bargains, compared to visiting their own country, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun called on Firefly, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), to have a built-in mechanism offering lower airfares as an effort to encourage domestic tourism.

MASIDI (left) presenting a souvenir to Leong, during the welcoming ceremony of the inaugural Firefly flight to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur at the KKIA, yesterday.

“Holidaying overseas sounds much better to Malaysians, but it affects domestic tourism. There should be a balance for us when traveling, because holidaying within our country will control the outside flow of the Ringgit.

“For one Malaysian to holiday abroad, we lose one local tourist in the country,” he said when representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman to welcome the inaugural Firefly flight to the state capital from Kuala Lumpur at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport yesterday.

Masidi gave an example of the promotional fare of RM99 to London while to travel to Sandakan, one will have to fork out about RM400.

“This is a simple issue which needs to be tackled,” he said.

Firefly managing director Datuk Eddy Leong, when asked to comment on the matter, said: “I think prices depend on supply and demand. If the supply is more, then players tend to do anything to get passengers. However, we want to continue to be committed to our tagline as a community airline.”

On another development, Masidi also proposed to Firefly and other airlines, to consider conveying conservation message to their passengers to protect nature.

“This is also in line with our tagline, ‘less is more’, meaning the less we disturb our pristine forest and sea, the more people will come to visit Sabah,” he said.

On Firefly, he said the community airline’s participation would contribute tourists arrival to Sabah.

“About 94 per cent of tourists coming to Sabah came by air. Sabah Tourism should sit down for discussion with Firefly to collaborate on how to increase the numbers (of visitors to Sabah),” he said.

The minister added Sabah last year recorded 2.5 million tourist arrivals which superceded the target of 2.34 million people and collecting a revenue of RM3.7 billion.

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