KOTA KINABALU: Countries around the world will only fully reopen their borders when the Covid-19 pandemic is completely under control globally.
Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Kota Kinabalu, Liang Caide, said no country could fully reopen as long as the pandemic has yet to be under control.
For instance, he said only certain areas where Covid-19 was completely contained were allowed to reopen in China.
Hence, he said it was crucial for the people to be inoculated as soon as possible to achieve herd immunity in order to control the pandemic, and eventually, allowed a country to reopen its borders.
He said that in a courtesy call by Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC) director cum Cultural and Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Philip Yong, Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) president cum MCBC Cultural and Tourism Committee deputy chairman Datuk Seri Winston Liaw, Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) Sabah chapter president Lawrence Wong, Sabah Tourist Association (STA) chairman Tony Chew.
MCBC is a government body under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Liang said Covid-19 vaccination was preparation for the reopening of a country and the people should actively register to be inoculated.
At the meeting, Liaw informed Liang said tourism players were dispirited having borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic for more than a year.
“Some leaders of tourism associations are finding it hard to stay afloat.”
As such, Liaw hoped that Liang would give tourism players some encouragement, suggestions or positive news that could motivate industry players to persevere through these trying times.
In response, Liang said the Covid-19 pandemic was showing no sign of ending anytime soon as cases continued to fluctuate, and therefore, China could not make any concrete promises.
Nevertheless, he was optimistic that the pandemic would eventually be over.
“It is only a matter of time.
“History has proven that mankind has survived many plagues in the past and I believe we can survive this time.”
He urged Sabah tourism players not to be discouraged.
“The tourism industry in Sabah has great potential and will not be defeated so easily.”
Liang suggested tourism operators to take advantage of the low tourist period to upgrade and improve tourist facilities so that Sabah could welcome more Chinese tourists when the country reopened its borders.
On whether China could reopen its borders to Sabah as the Covid-19 outbreak here was put under control faster than other states, Liang said China considered Malaysia as a whole rather than individual states.
Therefore, he said it was quite impossible for China to reopen its borders only to Sabah.
However, Liang vowed to convey to the Chinese Government to consider reopening its borders to Sabah if the number of cases has dropped to zero.
Yong concurred with Liang’s remarks.
He said the pace of vaccination in Malaysia, especially Sabah, was too slow and could affect vaccination cycle and render the vaccines ineffective.
“We will reflect this issue to the government to expedite the vaccination programme.”
On the other hand, Yong disclosed that the Cultural and Tourism Committee of MCBC was planning to visit Lahad Datu, Semporna and other districts to develop more tourist attractions and encourage industry players to come up with more tourism products as well as upgrade their safety facilities.
“We are most concerned about the issue of garbage. We are trying to clean up and conserve the natural environment we are blessed with.”
Also present were Deputy Consul General Wu Xiaoqing, MCBC Cultural and Tourism Committee secretary Adrian Yong, Cultural and Tourism Committee assistant Then Chun Tak, MCTA Sabah chapter vice president Shim Vun Ming and SATTA secretary Henry Yee.