Monday, December 9

Visitors to Sabah Parks will need to make declaration pledge


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Parks could soon emulate Kinabalu Parks tourist declaration pledge requirements, which will be enforced once Mount Kinabalu is fully open on December 1, this year.

Speaking after the Borneo Safari launch here yesterday, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said Sabah Parks should adopt the method to attain tourists acknowledgment of the rules and regulations before they are allowed to frequent its areas of jurisdiction.

He said this is especially appropriate after a controversial string of nude pictures, allegedly taken on Sempornas beach, have been circulated on social media.

It is incumbent upon them to comply with all rules and regulations so that nobody, no tourists can say that they didn’t know about it. We are mulling for Semporna and of course all those under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks, said Masidi.

The minister also asked for tourism players to enforce the method on tourists utilizing their services and accommodations.

The declaration should be made at the point of entry into the particular resorts because we want the resort owners to be fully responsible, to make sure that their visitors behave, he said.

The duty not only lies on the police, on the Sabah Parks but I think it is equally the duty of resort owners, tour agents, tour guides to ensure that tourists behave, added Masidi.

The minister is also awaiting for the police investigation report to verify the time and location of the said nude social media pictures involving several Chinese tourists.

We believe that it was taken at different times. Some pictures in 2013 and some probably at the beginning of this month. According to the police, they have with them a Chinese national who is helping them in the investigations.

But whatever it is, Sabah Parks is meeting all tour operators and resort owners in Semporna tomorrow. They are going to emphasize the fact that tour operators, resort owners and guides should clearly inform all tourists the do’s and don’ts when they are in Sabah, also in Semporna, which is overwhelmingly a Muslim district, he said.

We like them to come but at the same time they must respect our culture, norms, customs, and our societal behaviour must be respected. We take what has happened seriously and we would like to believe you (tourists) can still enjoy yourself in Sabah and take pictures without getting nude, he added.

Meanwhile, the minister suggested that the government should take advantage of the ringgit depreciation by making the necessary moves to stimulate financial growth through Malaysias tourism sector.

This includes the revision of conditions for the Chinese visa exemption following the changing tourist travelling trend in the country.

We should look at it positively. This industry is a very resilient industry, more so right now when we are facing economic challenges. Tourism is one area that can actually be a big booster to the national economy because it is a cash industry, he explained.

I have also maintained, in the time of great difficulty as it is now, I think the government need to look into the tourism industry as an area where they can actually mitigate the downturn in other sectors of the primary industries.

Tourism industry will not fall. In fact, the more the ringgit is depreciated, the assumption is more tourists will be coming over to our place. So I think the government and the industry in particular should exploit this situation by taking steps and initiatives to ensure the industry thrives during difficult times, he added.