Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tourism minister's remarks on Sabah trigger MATTA rebuke

THE Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has issued a strong statement rebutting Malaysian tourism and culture minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s position regarding tourist safety in Lahad Datu.

Mohamed Nazri told the parliament on Monday that certain places in Sabah remained unsafe and that he would not order tourism officers abroad to promote the destination. The Rakyat Post quoted him as saying that he personally will not visit Lahad Datu to avoid trouble, while The Star stated the minister does not want to be responsible for guaranteeing the safety of tourists in Sabah.

Responding to the minister’s remarks in a press release, MATTA vice president inbound, KL Tan, said: “In the first place, Lahad Datu is not a tourist destination. Perhaps the minister should also say he cannot guarantee the safety of any tourist to Malaysia as there are many unresolved cases involving the security of tourists.

“If a tourist is murdered in West Malaysia and the case remains unresolved, can we also say that Peninsular Malaysia remains unsafe?” he questioned.

Tan added that the Mohamed Nazri’s statement is a blow to the local industry and negates the concerted efforts by all tourism stakeholders to promote Sabah, echoing Sabah tourism, culture and environment minister Masidi Manjun’s remarks in an earlier report by The Star that his federal counterpart’s statement threatened to undo the hard work undertaken by the Sabah tourism authorities to bring back tourists to the state.