'Continue at least another year'
Published on: Friday, November 02, 2018

Tawau: The proposal to halt MASwings' domestic flights is not a good idea, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew.Liew, who is also Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, hoped MASwings will continue its domestic flights in Sabah for at least another year before finalising the decision as it can affect the State's tourism industry and related sectors.

"Do not make the decision now as we are already in November…such decision can affect our domestic flight sector," she said, here, Thursday.

She was made to understand that the affected flights would be Kota Kinabalu-Tawau, Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu-Lahad Datu and Kota Kinabalu-Labuan, as well as flights to Tarakan, Kalimantan.

"The State Government is not in favour with the idea and I have told MASwings' deputy chief executive officer about it and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal was also briefed over the matter.

"I will even table an objection motion at the State Legislative Assembly sitting as Sabah really needs the domestic flights."

Meanwhile, she said, efforts had been intensified to promote the tourism spots in the district.

She disclosed that there will be a new inbound flights to Tawau and the district needs to be well-prepared in terms of hotel rooms, cleanliness, and transportation, among others.

Tawau Municipal Council president Alijus Sipil said the tourism development in the district is handled by the Tawau Tourism Action Body and the committee comprises of semi-permanent members.

However, he said, they are planning to turn it into a permanent committee.

"It needs an amendment in the local government's by-laws prior to making it a permanent committee," he said.

Meanwhile, in SANDAKAN, tourism operators here feel let down with news that MASwings has decided to cancel its Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan flights effective January 1, 2019.

Sandakan Tourism Association President Johnny Lim said a major reason for low hotel occupancy rates in Sandakan is the lack of air connectivity into this east coast town, which translates to low tourist arrivals.

He said with the upcoming cancellation, the low arrival situation will continue to spiral downwards.

"As it is, the Sandakan community is already facing uncertainty about the airport runway extension.

"Despite great fanfare about the airport extension announcement last year, work has yet to begin," he said in a statement Thursday.

Lim said tourism operators hope that the new government will reverse the decision announced by the previous government last year and allow MASwings flights to continue until other commercial airlines are ready to take up these routes. - Lagatah Toyos

Photo Source: Bernama


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