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Be honest, Masidi tells tour and travel agents Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 October 2010 22:11

Kota Kinabalu: Tour and travel agents have been advised to be friendly and honest to ensure foreign tourists visit Sabah frequently.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this at a dialogue with Members of Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) in Sabah, Monday.

Masidi said he issued the reminder in view of the increasing number of complaints against tour and travel agents.

He also advised them not to provide misleading information about Sabah to lure foreign tourists and upgrade their services.

He also bought up the issue of poor communication between local airlines and tour and travel agents, particularly in flight delays or cancellations, as well as outbound travellers being cheated by tour packages.

"The number (of complaints) is not alarming but I think it is something for us to be concerned about, because Sabahans are known to be honest people," said Masidi.

"We need to reclaim back our honesty which somehow have been 'hijacked' by greed. This is a rather strong word to use, but obviously that seems to be the motivation by some people why they have forgotten this most important thing that people know about Sabahans," he said.

He said among the complaints received are related to tourists who have paid in advance to the travel agent here but did not get what had been promised to them.

"When they try to reach the travel agent concerned for a refund, they could not reach him or her.

"Being honest is what make people respect us, which make us feel proud as a Sabahan. I just came back from Perth to market the new direct flight that Malaysia Airlines will start in January and when I ask why Australians like Sabahans, they said because we are friendly and we are honest," said Masidi.

The British people are also saying the same thing, he said, adding that the friendliness and honesty of Sabahans are also the reasons why Britons like to stay here under the Malaysia My Second Home Programme.

"So if you are doing business in Sabah, you have to be like Sabahans.

You can have all the money and titles in the world, but it is worth nothing without honesty," he said.

He advised Matta members to avoid giving misleading information about Sabah for the sake of luring more tourists.

"To give an example, you tell foreigners there is snow in Sabah, but when they come here, there is no snow and you started giving excuses and there is where all the troubles begin," he said.

Masidi also touched on the need for local tour and travel agents to continuously upgrade their quality of services which is particularly important for them to be able compete and face globalisation.

On the issue between local airlines and tour and travel agents, he cited an occasion where there were many tourists were stranded at an airport in the east coast after the cancellation of a flight.

"But an airline staff instead told them the flight was delayed instead of telling them the truth that the flight was cancelled," he said, adding that some of the affected tourists were very angry and said they will never visit Sabah again.

Meanwhile, Masidi said his Ministry and Matta Sabah Chapter will form a special committee to discuss new incentives for players in the tour and travel industry.

He however, also advised players in the industry to also play their role by helping the Government promote in their travel package the local cultural events like the Sabah Fest.

"We should not only emphasise on sightseeing alone, but must also help by including those cultural events like the Sabah Fest in your travel itinerary," he said.

Meanwhile, on the Atkinson Clock Tower issue, Masidi said so far it is with the Central Board Committee headed by Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Haji Noor which is tasked with the responsibility to review and discuss on it.

"The Central Board Committee will take into account all the related viewsÉwhatever the decision is, I am sure it will be for the best interest of the community," he told reporters during a press conference later.

"A lot of people are saying that we are against the proposed commercial development at the site, but no, that is not the issue. What I think the public want is something that can enhances the ambience of that place and I believes they (central board committee) will be able to sort it out, so let's just wait," he said.


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