Friday, February 28, 2014

Sabah Tourism voices concern power tariff hike may affect tourist arrivals

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun has expressed concern that the nationwide electricity tariff hike, which took effect on Jan 1, may to a certain extent affect the State's tourist arrival figure this year.

Sabah received two million domestic tourists last year, the first in the State's history, and one million in foreign tourist arrivals, which is also a record.

He said this is especially because domestic tourists may decide to cut cost in other aspects, which include less travelling for them, because of the increase in their electricity bill.

"That is why we are setting a cautiously optimistic target in terms of tourist arrivals for this year. For this year, we are just targeting about two per cent growth in the number of tourist arrivals," he told reporters during an appreciation luncheon hosted by the Ministry for the State winners in the recent Malaysian Tourism Award ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur.

Masidi also hoped hotel and resort operators in the State would help out by keeping their room rates at a healthy level that is affordable to both domestic and international tourists.

"I think we need to be careful because we cannot spoil the very reasons why people are coming to Sabah and I hope the hotel industry will continue to maintain a healthy rate that is affordable to both domestic as well as international tourists," he said.

"At the moment, it (room rate) is high. You are talking about an average RM500 to RM800 per night, which is high, I mean it is bad news that we like, especially at the hotel industry but at the same time, it may have repercussions on domestic tourism," he said.

He said this rate maybe just average or still low for international/foreign tourists but to the domestic tourists it is really quite high.

"So we do not want to lose the domestic tourists too. For the first time, the domestic tourist arrivals touched the two million mark and for the first time in history, the international arrivals also touched the one million mark and this is something good for us," he said.

On the shortage of 5-star hotel rooms, he said this is expected to be eased when JW Marriott at the city waterfront starts operations at the end of this year and Kota Kinabalu Hilton is anticipated to begin operations in the first quarter of 2015.

On business people here who intentionally increase the prices of their products especially seafood being sold to the tourists at high prices just to profit from their increasing number in the State, Masidi advised them to be careful because people have choice.

"If the price outside is similar with the hotel then they would rather eat in the hotel. They should not be too greedyƉdon't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs," he said.