SANDAKAN, March 18 — The Sandakan Tourism Association (Stan) has called on the government to set up travel bubbles between districts and states that are under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) to help sustain the tourism industry.
Its president Teo Chee Kim said the travel bubble concept is crucial to weather the crisis brought on by the travel restrictions imposed a year ago to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Establishing travel bubbles will be a stopgap measure for the tourism industry … just like the oxygen tank for a Covid-19 patient.
“We definitely need this ‘oxygen tank’ to carry the tourism industry over this crisis … the latest standard operating procedure (SOP) for only allowing travel within the same zone in Sabah is not much of a help to the tourism industry especially to Sabah’s east coast like Sandakan,” he told Bernama here today.
He said Sandakan was considered Sabah’s nature city serving as the gateway to the state’s rich biodiversity and renowned attractions such as the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Gomantong Caves and the Turtle Islands Park.
On March 3, the Sabah government allowed cross-district travel based on six zones stipulated under the RMCO, whereby Zone 1 covers Kota Kinabalu, Kota Belud, Ranau, Tuaran, Penampang, Putatan and Papar; Zone 2 Beaufort, Kuala Penyu and Sipitang; and Zone 3 Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas.
Zone 4 covers Sandakan, Beluran, Kinabatangan and Tongod; Zone 5 Tawau, Semporna, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Kalabakan; and Zone 6 Keningau, Tambunan and Tenom.
Meanwhile, Kinabatangan Corridor of Life Tourism Operator Association (KiTA) president Alexander Yee said operators needed to be creative with their packages and costs to keep their business going.
“If operators can lower costs, they can offer cheaper packages to attract the locals who are more price-sensitive than international travellers,” he said.
Yee said any move towards easing travel restrictions was welcomed as long as the SOPs to curb the spread of the virus are strictly adhered to.