Monday, July 02, 2007

Meeting this week to help ailing tourism in rural Sarawak and Sabah

The ongoing rural air services crisis in Sarawak and Sabah has brought about a near-collapse of the rural tourism industry in these states, and the Government must be avoided, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim.

Lim, who was in northern Sarawak with MPs, senators and tourism board officials to check on the ground situation, was shocked to find tour agencies, motels and resort operators, and local tourism-related players in Mulu National Park on the verge of “closing shop” after suffering two years of financial losses because of the flight woes.

Lim said his ministry, the Transport Ministry, the major airlines and the Sarawak and Sabah governments would hold an urgent meeting this week to discuss the crisis, stop the rot and initiate recovery measures.

“Sarawak has seen a drop of 40% already in terms of tourist arrivals because of these flight woes. This is a very serious decline.

“There are many flight cancellations and uncertainties, and so tour operators cannot book hotel rooms in advance.

"They also have problems getting refunds for cancelled flights. There are operators in Mulu who may have to close soon.

“We are about to enter another airline transition stage involving the handing over of aircrafts and rural service from Fly Asian Xpress to MASWings.

"Another mishandling must be avoided at all cost,” he told a press conference here on Monday.

Source : STAR
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