SEMPORNA: The opening of domestic tourism sector has given some relief to tour boat operators in the district.
According to Semporna Tourist Jetty general manager Kwan Yaw Fu, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country and especially during the school holiday season, as many as 3,000 tourists came daily and used boat services to go to the islands around the district.
“Since the government allowed the opening of the domestic tourism sector, bookings have picked up from between 10 and 40 local tourists to around 800 a day.
“Most of the tourists who come are only from Zone 5 – the districts of Tawau, Semporna, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Kalabakan.
“Although this figure is still too low but it gives a ray of hope for the continuity of domestic tourism as well as a positive sign that the tourism industry is active although less encouraging in terms of bookings,” he said when met at the Semporna Tourist Jetty here recently.
He explained that the main factor for the reduction of tourist arrivals to this district is due to the restriction on inter-district movement in Sabah.
“However, to restore the tourism sector, especially the tour boat operators and accommodation, it needs the support of the local community to visit this district because the tourism sector is the biggest contributor to the economic growth of the surrounding community.
“Tourism operators need to move in line with the government’s initiative to attract local tourists by ensuring that the services offered are in line with the capabilities and tastes of tourists who come to visit Sabah’s parks.
“So far, about 250 affected tourism agencies are still actively operating around the district and hope that the residents around Zone 5, especially domestic tourists, can help in catalysing the recovery of the industry,” he said.