Ease fund requirements for Sabah firms – Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun hopes that the federal Tourism and Culture Ministry could ease certain requirements of the Tourism Development Infrastructure Fund (TPIP) to enable Sabahan companies to obtain the financing.

He said the government had allocated RM1 billion to TPIP with the aim to assist tourism operators who wished to develop or enhance the quality of their products, especially hotels, resorts and chalets, as well as other tourism products such as theme parks, galleries, museums, restaurants related to tourism, convention centre that were specified by the ministry with a minimum loan amount of RM5 million to a maximum of RM100 million.

However, Masidi said applications from Sabah was not encouraging.

He said the TPIP was open to tourism players who had a minimum paid-up capital of RM5 million or minimum 20 per cent of the total loan applied, whichever was higher, while the lending rate was four to six per cent per annum.

Masidi said the Tourism and Culture Ministry should take into account that not many companies in Sabah have a paid-up capital of RM5 million, especially bumiputera companies.

“So I hope certain requirements can somewhat be made easier for Sabahan companies without jeopardizing the entire setup of the fund itself,” he said when officiating at an engagement session with tourism players in Sabah here yesterday.

While he understood that the RM5 million paid-up capital requirement was to ensure the applicants were able to repay the loan, Masidi opined that the federal Tourism and Culture Ministry should considering looking into some of the requirements for Sabah given the bright prospect of the tourism industry here.

“Sabah is one of the better tourism players last year, so much so that we are short of accommodation.

“There are now 180 direct flights per week flying to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), and 86 flights from China alone, excluding charter flights.

“This will grow if we have sufficient accommodation.”

The problem is that it is not easy to secure bank loan to build hotels as the repayment period is long, he said.

As such, Masidi said the government should offer loans to enable existing hotel operators to refurnish their hotels or build new ones.

In his speech, Masidi also touched on the Special Tourism Fund (TKP) specifically for small and medium oeprators with a loan amount from RM250,000 up to RM30 million.

He said the lending rate for TKP, from BFR + 0% per annum up to BFR + 2.5% per annum, was lower compared to commercial banks.

On another note, Masidi said 25 tourism products received the Malaysia Tourism Quality Assurance (MyTQA) recognition last year. Tabin Wildlife Resort is the only recipient of MyTQA from Sabah.

MyTQA is an initiative by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to enhance the quality of service of tourism products in Malaysia.

Masidi also reminded tourism players to be responsible when dealing with tourists.

He cited a recent case where tourists were abandoned upon reaching Kota Kinabalu.

“Luckily we have quickly gotten another tour agent (for the tourists),” he said, adding that there were foreigners who used locals to obtain licence.

He said such cases would tarnish the tourism industry in Sabah.

Also present were Tourism and Culture Ministry Sabah director Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk KL Tan.

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