KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will be undergoing a repositioning process for its international entry and exit points, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
Christina, who is also the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said the repositioning had to be done due to cases of Chinese tourists entering the state without getting their passports stamped.
“This is a longstanding issue where we have a large number of tourists from overseas, especially from China. Some of them did not get their passports stamped and yet they could still pass through domestic gates straight from the international gates.
“So when they leave any of the airports in Sabah, they have to be detained (due to the immigration issue). This has happened a few times,” said Christina.
Between November and December alone, there were eight reported cases of such nature and involved a total of twenty tourists.
“The Immigration Department and airport management will be repositioning the structure of the entry and exit points for international visitors
“They will be submitting a proposal on the repositioning – to find the best solution to solve the matter and to ensure that all passports would be stamped upon arrival of the international visitors.
“Let’s hope that by next week, we will be able to receive the proposal from the Immigration Department and the airport management. If this is successfully done, we can eliminate all unwanted miscommunications,” she said.
She spoke to reporters during yesterday’s inspection at KKIA, which she conducted together with her ministry, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China Liang Caide, the airport management and the Immigration Department.
Christina expects that a large number of China tourists will be coming to Sabah during the upcoming Chinese New Year season. She is expecting more than 80,000 China tourists, which is higher than last year’s figure for that period of time.
“Thus, we want to resolve this issue once and for all, to avoid any untoward incidents.”
Christina added that the airport might also be setting up more signages in Chinese to make it easier for the Chinese-speaking tourists when they are in KKIA.