KOTA KINABALU, Jan 27 — Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Christina Liew has asked for two weeks to “resolve” some contentious issues including the recent increase in prices to climb the iconic Mount Kinabalu.
Liew said that the issues were essential to navigate the expected tourism influx soon.
“Give us two weeks to work on resolving some of the setbacks for a favourable outcome, which includes the price hike for the Mt Kinabalu Climb permit fee, and the entrance fee to Kinabalu National Park,” she said.
“We will try our best to help in whatever way we can, knowing very well we are on the threshold of a tourism boom,” she said during a courtesy call by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta), Sabah/Labuan Chapter led by its Chairman Lawrence Chin.
Sabah Parks has recently doubled the price of the climbing permit for foreign adults from RM200 to RM400, while Malaysians will be charged RM100 (up from RM50) for adults. Non-Malaysians under the age of 12 years children will be charged RM200 instead of the current RM80, while Malaysians under 12 years are charged RM50 (from RM30).
The rate for mountain guides was also increased from RM230 to RM350.
The last rate hike for mountain guides was in 2015, following the deadly Ranau earthquake.
This is the first rate hike in 20 years. Sabah Parks said the revision was being done to cope with the higher daily maintenance costs.
Other unresolved concerns raised by the tourism delegation were the operations of illegal tour operators, lack of enforcement to apprehend the offenders, expired permits of tour buses and the need to renew the permits of these vehicles through the Tourism and Culture ministry which may take up to three months.
The delegation also brought up other long-standing issues such as smelly airport toilets and the unsatisfactory level of environmental cleanliness in some districts which could mar the image of Sabah.
In 2019, Liew who was Tawau MP, had in the Dewan Rakyat asked the federal ministry to allow Sabah to process, approve and issue tourism-related licences. These include the entry and exit licences for tourism agents such as licences for tourist guides, licences for tourism vehicles, ticket licensing; and licences to manage tourism training schools or institutions.