KOTA KINABALU: The Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is planning to hire more Mandarin speaking officers to meet the needs of a growing number of visitors from China.
According to its minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, the approach was being considered by the state government in order to be more effective in addressing the increased Chinese arrivals.
He said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman had felt that the appointment of the new Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming was also in line with the effort.
“We want to have a political leader within the ministry who could communicate directly with the officers and visitors from China.
“Of course, we did not have any problem before because we had very good translators, but this is an even better solution as it shows how serious we are in this matter,” he said after attending lunch with his outgoing and incoming officers and assistant ministers yesterday.
He added that having Pang in the ministry would further elevate the ministry in terms of its competitiveness with not just countries within Asia but also with states within the country.
“We need to ensure that our Chinese tourists can have direct access to the leadership of this state,” he said.
Meanwhile, a total of 103,917 travellers from China and Hong Kong arrived in Sabah within the first quarter of this year. This signified a rise of 75 per cent in their arrivals as compared to the same period last year.
And from next month until August, the state is also expecting the arrival of 36 chartered flights from China.
He said the arrival of chartered flights had increased by 89 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
“This year, we received 87 chartered flight arrivals as compared to only 46 chartered flight arrivals at the same time last year.”
He added that his ministry’s future endeavor would be to market Sabah to Beijing.
During the interview, Masidi also commented on a drowning incident involving seven-year-old Nurain Atiqah Akmal Joseph at Poring Hot Springs, in Ranau, earlier this month.
He said among his suggestions to Sabah Parks to ward off any more similar incident in the future was to restrict the number of people going into the facility.
He said the park received huge numbers of visitors and that had made it difficult for Sabah Park personnel to control the place.
He also urged parents with small children to always monitor their kids.
At the same time, Masidi also mentioned that the case was still being investigated by the police and members of Sabah Parks would cooperate with them.