KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Federation (STF) has been established to unite associations and associates from the various sectors of the tourism industry to pursue mutual interest and cooperation.
STF protem president Dato’ Seri Winston Liaw said the protem office bearers and board members of the federation were elected during a meeting held at Le Meridien Hotel recently.
The federation encompasses 10 tourism and hospitality associations in Sabah.
The line-up of STF include leaders of local tourism and hospitality associations, namely Liaw (also Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents chairman) as the president, Fiona Hagan (Malaysian Association of Hotels Sabah Chapter chairperson) as deputy president, Christopher Chan (Sabah Hotel Association president) as honorary secretary general, Grace Leong (Sabah Tourist Guides Association president) as honorary treasurer general, Tony Chew (Sabah Tourist Association chairman) as deputy honorary secretary general and James Ong (Malaysia Budget Hotel Association Sabah Chapter chairman) as deputy honorary treasurer general.
The executive board members are Ritchie Lee (Sabah Backpacker Operators Association president), Djuanis Mogirong (Persatuan Homestay Sabah president), Dabalun bin Hj Balau (Persatuan Pemandu Pelancongan Bumiputra Negeri Sabah president) and Robert Chong (Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents Sabah Chapter chairman).
“The federation would serve to promote and protect the interest of members in particular, and the interests of the tourism industry in Sabah.
“It will also act as a consultative body and representative in all matters pertaining to issues affecting the conduct and development of the tourism industry in Sabah,” Liaw said in a press conference here yesterday.
Also present to witness the formation of the federation was Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming.
In addition, Liaw said STF would coordinate the rationalization of the various plans, programmes and activities undertaken by the various sectors of the industry as well as the government and private sector.
“We will initiate and assist in the formulation of policies concerning the promotion and development of tourism and tourism standards for the industry in Sabah through legislation setting or safeguards.”
He added that the federation would also assist in the promotion of both domestic and international tourism and in the upgrading of tourism infrastructure and services for the benefit of both members and tourists.
Meanwhile, Pang said his ministry would work closely with the federation and he believed the formation of STF could reduce a lot of paperwork and red tapes in the future.
He said the government welcomed the initiative shown by the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the tourism industry to set up a federation because it would assist the government to push forward the tourism agenda in Sabah.
“My congratulations to the federation for taking proactive steps to ensure tourism in Malaysia, especially Sabah, will flourish from this day onwards,” he said.
Pang added the formation of the federation would ease the process of consultation or reaching a consensus as the government would only have to communicate with an entity, which was represented by heads of respective tourism and hospitality associations.
“If anything happens, policies that need to be adopted, or anything that we need consultation with, it is easier for us to get consensus (with STF) instead of asking each (tourism association) for their opinion.”
Pang said it was more feasible to seek consensus with the federation because the government could not please everyone.
“But everyone has to play by the rules of the game whereby the majority has a bigger say.”
Pang pointed out that the 10 associations which have joined STF were only a fraction of the associations associated with the tourism industry.
“We hope that any association out there which has a role to play in tourism will join this federation so that it is easier for the government, especially my ministry, to communicate with an entity instead of so many entities,” he urged.