Tawau as next tourist destination
Published on: Saturday, July 14, 2018
Tawau: The Tawau Tourism Packages, which offers more than 30 tour packages involving 23 travel agents, was launched Friday with the hope of turning the district into a popular tourist destination.
Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew, who officiated at the launch, hoped the initiative taken by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) would bring development for Tawau and boost its tourism industry.
“The time has come for Tawau to be active in the field even though it’s quite late,” she said.
She said tourism is the only industry that employs 90 per cent of locals and that is what the ministry wants to promote so that it could offer job opportunities for locals.
“You can’t find any industry apart from tourism with so many local workers.
In the plantation and construction industries, we have many foreign workers but in tourism we have locals,” she said, adding that she felt sad Sabahans needed to go outside of the State to work in factories.
Christina said the launching of the Tourism Packages in the “Visit Tawau 2018/2019” was in line with the target to promote domestic tourism among Malaysians that includes Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah before going to push Tawau for international tourism next year, especially among Chinese and European tourists.
She said she is confident of Tawau meeting the international tourism target but is a little worried if it is ready to accommodate the needs of foreign tourists such as hotel rooms and tour guides.
“I know Tawau has what it takes. It has its own unique attractions that other places do not have.
Like this morning when I visited the Tawau Hills Park, I was honestly impressed… I didn’t even know that we have such a beautiful natural beauty,” she said.
She added that the existence of the tallest tropical tree in the world (96.9 metres) at Tawau Hill Park will be also part of the tourism packages that will boost international tourism here.
Earlier in her speech, the Tawau MP said one of the most effective ways to attract visitors to Tawau is for the locals to invest more in tourism infrastructure.
“They should spruce up the existing facilities and beatify the town such as by applying a fresh coat of paint on those that have faded and plant more trees and flowers to add colour and vibrancy to the town,” she said.
She also assured that the State Government would provide the necessary support to make Tawau a tourism hotspot in Borneo.
Matta President Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the Tawau tour packages span a wide area, from Maliau Basin at the north-west of Tawau to Semporna on the east, which include wide ranging products offered by many tour and transport operators, accommodation providers, restaurants, attractions, cottage industries and shops.
He said the packages, which cater for China, Europe and domestic tourists, are available through travel agents’ distribution channels and e-marketing.
“We are focusing on several key countries that contribute to the most number of visitors to Sabah for the first four months of this year. Apart from domestic tourists, foreign visitors are mainly from China, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, Ireland, Australia and Singapore,” he said.
“However, to place Tawau on the world tourism map and become one of the hotspots, it involves all parties, not only Matta or the Minister concerned, to play their part.
“I therefore urge all local industry players in Tawau to participate fully and ethically to nurture a healthy and sustainable tourism industry, which will boost the local economy, provide jobs and raise the quality of life for the locals.” – Lagatah Toyos