KOTA KINABALU: Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and industry players in the tourism sector are advised not to get overexcited but to be more factual and accurate when releasing press statements.
Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said he understood that industry players were excited about new direct flights from Kota Kinabalu to Wuhan, China beginning January next year as well as from Guangzhou to Kota Kinabalu starting December this year.
However, the figures released by tourism NGOs should be more factual and realistic, he said.
Pang was referring to Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) chairman Dato’ Seri Winston Liaw’s statement in local Chinese dailies that up to 100,000 tourists from China were expected to arrive in Sabah next year.
Liaw said the new daily Wuhan-Kota Kinabalu flights were selling like hot cakes in China for the month of January to October next year, in which 25,000 tickets have been purchased.
Apart from the direct flights to Wuhan, Liaw said other chartered flights from China and Chinese tourists brought in by the Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Shareda) president Datuk Francis Goh would contribute to an estimated 100,000 tourist arrivals from China next year.
Pang said the figures given on tourist arrivals on new direct flights might not be achievable or accurate.
Southern Air’s thrice weekly Guangzhou-Kota Kinabalu direct flight will begin on December 1 this year while AirAsia’s daily Wuhan-Kota Kinabalu direct flight will start on January 20, 2016.
“In their excitement when they publish or release any statement, please be more factual or realistic.”
He said the tourism industry was sensitive to the environment and anything could happen.
“We do not want the industry to have too high expectations. If the expectations are too high, the disappointment will be greater.”
In addition, he said the high expectations would cause certain quarters to think that tourism would be very exciting next year.
As a result, Pang said they would consider increasing rate, irrespective whether their decisions were backed up by actual arrivals, which in turn, affected the industry.
Furthermore, he said this would give a very wrong perception to people that establishing new hotels was viable when in fact, there were sufficient hotels in the town area.
“There are sufficient number of hotels in the town area; we only lack resorts of three to four stars.”
Pang said AirAsia aircraft could only carry up to 180 passengers, which amounted to 65,700 passengers a year, provided the plane was full every day. The number does not add up to 100,000, he said.
“No doubt your (referring to Liaw’s) intention is good, but you might misrepresent the actual scenario in Sabah and lead to other things that are not to the advantage of the industry.
“People jacking up prices … young people getting into tourism line, hotels being built… not knowing the real situation.”
Nonetheless, he said SATTA and Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) must work together for the tourism industry.