KUCHING: The special protection given to Malaysia Airlines (MAS) ought to be lifted to pave the way for Sarawak and Sabah to have more direct international flights to spur their tourism industry.
Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz said his ministry would talk to the Ministry of Transport as soon as possible to address this perennial issue.
“Now is no longer the time to protect our national carrier. We should focus on the tourism industry which is one of the biggest money earners from the infl ow of tourists,” he told reporters at the Federal Agriculture and Marketing Authority (Fama) building at Medan Niaga Satok yesterday.
Nazri said he was aware that state leaders had pleaded for direct international fl ights for years but all fell on deaf ears due to the special protection given to MAS.
He opined that MAS had been around the past 50 years and thus it was high time the government shifted its priorities and push for more direct international fl ights to states such as Sarawak and Sabah which have strong tourism potentials.
“The modern world is fast becoming a global village, and this will increase competition in all sectors. This, thus, makes it senseless to protect a single national airline carrier.
“We have to be open and competitive. If our airline is unable to compete, that is too bad.”
Nazri said he believed that if the Pan Borneo Highway materialised it would open up even more opportunities for Sarawak to tap its tourism industry.
On tourist arrivals for this year, he said his ministry expected 26.7 million tourists to visit Malaysia, with tourism receipts totalling RM63 billion.
Sarawak is expected to draw in 4.2 million tourists this year.
Nazri said both figures were expected to increase next year as it would be Visit Malaysia Year.
“Next year, we are projecting 28 million tourists in Malaysia, 4.5 million of them visiting Sarawak to produce a tourism receipt of RM67 billion.”
Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Let MAS fly on its own in Sabah and Sarawak.