KOTA KINABALU: Newly appointed Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz will be promoting Sabah aggressively as the state has everything that tourists to Malaysia want to see and experience.
“I visited Sabah because to me, ‘think tourism, think Sabah’. I am not a Sabahan, I am not parochial, I am Malaysian and I am proud Sabah is part of Malaysia because the state has everything that the tourist wants,” he told reporters after a working visit to the state since his appointment as Tourism and Culture Minister.
Nazri was of the opinion that Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has got it right in terms of what they want to do for state tourism and the potential tourism receipts are there.
“So we should actually use this opportunity to promote Sabah as the number one tourism spot not only in Malaysia but in the region too, and hopefully to the world. I am going to be the ‘seventh’ federal minister for Sabah, I am going to promote Sabah as if it is my own state.
“And there is no barrier with regards to what we are going to spend for Sabah and also Sarawak because both states play a very major role in Malaysia’s tourism,” he said and pointed out that both Sabah and Sarawak were very big states and thus could not be treated like the other states in terms of allocation.
“I will certainly focus on Sabah and Sarawak and I will do everything within my means allowed by law to really promote Sabah as the number one tourist state in Malaysia. I am going to give more financial attention to Sabah,” he added.
Nazri, who described himself as a ‘rookie’ in tourism, said he came to Sabah to listen to STB, tour operators, and hoteliers as they were the players in the state tourism industry and therefore knew better than him.
“I do not want to pretend that I know everything when it comes to promoting tourism. I am prepared to sit down and listen to them well and where it is appropriate, I will take the necessary action,” he stressed.
On the issue of air accessibility to Sabah, Nazri said he was informed that 96 per cent accessibility to Sabah was by air.
“All this while, it has always been a minister from Sabah or Sarawak speaking out about air accessibility from other parts of the world,” he said, adding: “So much so that it seems parochial and they are fighting for their own state.
“If I voice this out it will not be seen as parochial because it is a Perakkian talking about air accessibility to Sabah and Sarawak. I will strongly bring this matter up in the cabinet and I am very sure that the cabinet knows that the tourism ministry generates huge tourism receipts for the country.
“I think our demand for more flights to Sabah and Sarawak will be seen as legitimate and necessary and be considered as something that will be taken seriously … I will bring it up in the cabinet,” he said.
When asked to comment about state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun’s request that the government improve the land connectivity in Sabah, especially to tourism spots, Nazri replied that he would also bring the matter to the attention of the Works Minister.
“Fortunately, the Works Minister is from East Malaysia and he understands the road accessibility to some of the remote villages in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.
Nazri said he would also be speaking to Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minster Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan about the need to light up the state capital as well as major towns in Sabah.
“He is a Sabahan and I think we will get a sympathetic ear from him,” he said.