Enhance tourism products and services: Masidi

Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun urged tourism industry players in Sabah to make use of the Government’s Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund (TPIP) to enhance their competitiveness and service quality to meet the challenges ahead.

He said the Government had provided various assistance and facilities to assist them improve the quality of their services.

“Among them, the Government has provided various incentives and allocated RM1 billion through the TPIP which offers financing facilities in the form of loans.

“The fund is open to locals but so far, applications for the fund from Sabah seems to be not so encouraging.

So we are here to promote to those qualified through a dialogue,” he said at a session with the Sabah tourism industry players, here, Tuesday.

A total of 195 comprising tourism industry players attended the event.

Masidi said the fund aimed to help entrepreneurs who want to develop or improve the quality of their tourism products, especially lodging, such as hotels, resorts and chalets.

“For non-accommodation products such as theme parks, galleries/museums, tourist restaurants, conference centres and other projects classified by the Ministry with a minimum paid-up capital of RM5 million, loans of a minimum of RM5 million up to RM100 million are available with a 4-6 per cent interest rate.

“There is also the Special Fund for Tourism (TKP) which offers loans for small and medium tourism industry operators, from RM250,000 to RM30 million.

“The interest rate for TKP loans is much lower compared to other commercial banks of BFR + 0 per cent-BFR + 2.5 per cent per annum. The Tourism Special Fund Financing is open to small and medium tourism operators registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia,” he added.

Masidi said this is important as the State is one of the better players of the tourism industry in the country and now faces a lack of tourism accommodation facilities.

“The long-term potential of the tourism industry is bright indeed in Sabah. Already there are 180 direct international flights weekly flying to Kota Kinabalu International Airport and from China alone, there are 86 flights weekly, excluding charter flights.

“The problem here is that it’s not easy to get a loan from the banks to build hotels because the payback period is quite long, i.e. the gestation period is around eight years, and this is where the Government should come in to offer loans to people who are currently running a hotel and they want to refurbish it or build anew.

The industry can only expand if there are enough rooms.”

Masidi said in this respect, the Government was also trying to disperse the tourism crowd to the east coast like Sandakan, but it is not an easy matter.

“We have even taken the initiative to set up experimental charter flights to Sandakan.

The problem is those heading there head straight away to Kinabatangan because that’s where the attractions which are wildlife are located.”

Meanwhile, Masidi also called on all tourism players, especially government enforcement authorities, to work together.

He gave the example of where his Ministry was investigating a recent case where Chinese tourists who arrived at the State Capital were practically “abandoned” (by their original tour agent), adding that when they were sent to the airport, nobody was there to meet and attend to them.

“It is these sorts of incidents that are damaging to our local tourism industry. Luckily, we found out about their case and quickly got another tour agent to take care of them.”

He said worse still was where he heard about cases of foreigners using locals in order to get tourism licences.

“We are allowing ourselves to be used (by foreigners). So I am saying even if you insist to allow yourselves to be used, at least be responsible.

“Let it not be the case we only get a director’s allowance every month and allow some irresponsible people to exploit us. I think this is no good. I think we have to learn from the experience of other countries who are ahead of us. As far as possible, we need to take up the industry.

Masidi said the good news is he read that the State tourism Industry would be getting back half of the tourism tax revenue.

“So trust us to do something that is right. All these will be ploughed back into the State’s tourism industry itself.

Our portion will be paid back to the State Government so it can control the usage of the funds for the development of the State tourism industry.” – Neil Chan – DailyExpress.com.my

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