Build more budget hotels in interior:CM
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has urged the private sector to build more budget hotels to cater for the increasing tourist arrivals to the interior region. He said the shortage of hotel rooms here had been brought up to his attention and stressed the need for an immediate action to overcome the problem. “In this regard, I urge the private sector to build more budget hotels to overcome inadequate hotel rooms and at the same time create jobs for the locals,” said Musa when launching the Koningau Wood Festival 2007 here yesterday. Musa, who was represented by Deputy Chief Minister cum Industrial Development Minister Datuk Seri Pairin Kitingan, said the development of tourism in the rural and interior areas had been given priority under the State Tourism Development Master Plan for 1995 to 2010. This was aimed to ensure rural folks would benefit directly from the development of the tourism industry in Sabah, he said, adding that the State Government’s initiatives in developing the tourism sector had received strong support from the Federal Government.
“Under the National Budget 2008, a sum of RM200 million has been set aside under the Tourism Infrastructure Fund to spur tourism activities and programmes in Sabah and Sarawak. “Under the fund, priority is focused on the development of projects related to nature and environmental tourism,” he said. Commenting on the second annual Koningau Wood Festival, Musa expressed confidence that the multipier effect of the event would benefit other sectors that are related to the tourism industry such as hotels, transportation, restaurants and other service sectors. As the festival is becoming more popular amongst foreign visitors, he urged the locals here to introduce more new tourism products and reckoned that the homestay programme should be developed actively. “The homestay programme will not only enable foreign tourists to get to know more closely about the livelihood of the local communities but also overcome the shortage of hotel rooms,” Musa added. The Chief Minister also called for more scientific research to be conducted on cinnamon, especially for medicinal purposes. He said the research was also necessary to diversify the uses of cinnamon and boost the industry’s downstream activities. “There is currently wide global market potential in the medicinal industry which can yield high returns for farmers,” he said. Musa said farmers should undertake commercial cultivation of cinnamon in view of the high demand for the product in the local and international markets. He said farmers in Keningau, especially those whose land was idle, should plant cinnamon to improve their livelihood and restore Keningau’s image as the largest cinnamon producer in Sabah. More than 5,000 people, including Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, Bingkor Assemblyman Justin Guka, Liawan Assemblyman, Datuk Haji Sairin Karno, Sook Assemblyman Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Pensiangan Member of Parliament Datuk Bernard S Maraat, State Tourism Board chairman Datuk Tengku Adlin Zainal Abidin, District Officer Haji Zulkifli Nasir and District Chief OKK Mohd Amir Datuk Arif were present function.