KOTA KINABALU: There is a need to bring back Sabah’s identity as having ‘friendly and honest people’ especially in the tourism industry, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun.
After seeing a rise in overall complaints from visitors and tourists who came to Sabah, the minister said Sabah must maintain its identity as having honest and friendly people to remain competitive in the tourism industry.
“There has been a rise in the number of complaints I received personally and the complaints forwarded to the various relevant agencies and departments.
“Although the number is not alarming, it does show that something needs to be done in order for Sabah to remain a highly desired destination for tourism,” he said.
Masidi said this while speaking during an industrial dialogue between the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) and Tourism Ministry on the need for both the government and the private sector to recognize the importance of continued collaboration to achieve common goals and aspiration consistent with industry benchmarks.
According to Masidi, there had been many complaints that tour agents or related tourism companies had made empty promises to their customers, especially those from abroad.
“It saddens me to say this, but this is a fact. Maybe greed has caused this downfall of our identity – promising things that cannot be delivered is a very bad thing to do. I am not here to humiliate or scold but to remind everyone about the importance of honesty. Many tourists have complained that they have paid good money for the many things promised to them by tour agents, but were never delivered,” he said.
Sharing his personal experience, Masidi said that a lady from Europe resorted to contacting him personally after having a bad experience visiting Sabah.
“This lady told me that she paid a lot of money to visit Sabah with the hope of experiencing the things promised by the tour agent she engaged, but ended up getting pushed here and there when things went wrong. She told me that she will never visit Sabah again for the things she experienced, and I had to personally call her once I got her number to apologise on behalf of the State of Sabah,” said Masidi.
He said that Sabah must maintain its identity because it is competing with other countries which are either already very well known for their tourism destinations, or those which have tremendous potential to boom in the tourism industry.
“We must use our advantage, which is honesty and friendliness, to maintain the strength of our tourism industry,” he added.