Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun urged Malaysians to support domestic tourism instead of going abroad in the light of the country's challenging foreign exchange situation.
"Currently we are facing a challenging economic situation and perhaps the tourism industry could be the saviour of our economy so we can continue to help sustain the economy. "For that reason, we need to encourage more Malaysians to travel within their own country.
"The Ringgit has depreciated against major world currencies and perhaps it is high time Malaysians are encouraged to travel within their own country. Not only will we save on foreign exchange by spending the money within our own country, we will also not be affected by the depreciation.
"This is the most logical step to continue not only to strengthen the economy but also boost the local tourism industry connectivity between East Malaysia and West Malaysia where there are more than 450 domestic flights per week, 136 international flights and from China alone weekly we have 61 flights and direct connectivity to 15 major cities in Asia especially North Asia.
"We also need to leverage on Kota Kinabalu's status as a preferred travel destination in Asia.
"So we need to remind all Malaysians that the duty to strengthen the economy lies with us, and at this crucial time we need to be more nationalistic and what a better way to do this than to travel in our own country."
He said this in his speech after receiving the inaugural Rayani Air flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Monday.
Masidi said the involvement of Rayani Air in the country's domestic tourism industry would give a big boost to domestic tourism.
"Oh behalf of the State Government we welcome another new domestic flight service, Rayani Air.
"I was made to understand the airline has daily services (between KK and KL) where it comes in the morning and leaves in the evening. "It is my hope that this company will increase the number of flights in future when they increase their number of planes."
Masidi said the airline was moving towards becoming a syariah compliant airline but more important was that all airline companies serving the State focus on their onboard service quality for their customers.
"When you are in a position where you are facing so much competition, I think the best thing to do is to improve the quality of your cabin services. Another thing is to ensure that the flight leaves and arrives at the promised times.
Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Plea to support domestic tourism as Rayani Air debuts in Sabah.