By Chris Maskilone
KOTA KINABALU: The State Government is committed in ensuring a conducive climate for investors to set up business particularly in the tourism industry in Sabah.
This is a two-pronged move as the State government was banking on tourism as the main income earner for Sabah.
Hence, among the ways to support the growth of tourism was to facilitate fast approvals for investments in this sector.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the government wanted investors to inject as much capital into tourism, which eventually will create spill-overs into other sectors as well.
Met after officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony of the RM120 million new Grand Liberty Hotel here Thursday, he said he had instructed all relevant agencies to expedite approvals.
He said the process should not take months or even years to be completed.
According to him, the State Government wanted more hotels to come up to cater to the growing number of visitors coming to Sabah.
“I have some friends from outside coming to Sabah saying they could not find a room in the city. The only one available is the suite room,” he said.
Shafie assured that in its zealousness to get more hotels, the government was also careful in its planning to ensure there would be no oversupply of rooms.
He said there must be good cooperation between the State Government and investors so that more investors are attracted to come and invest in other economic sectors.
At the same time, he said the State Government wanted to work something out with the Federal so that Sabah could get a bigger slice of the cake from the tourism tax.
According to him, Sabah only received RM12 million from the tourism tax collected last year as it has to split it with the Federal government.
“We want tourism to be the biggest income earner for Sabah. No more timber. I don’t want to chop trees anymore,” he said, adding timbers from Sabah were now going into the local market to support the downstream wood industries.
“Sabah is a rich state in terms of resources and land but it is how best we can monetise it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shafie believed the shifting of Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan would create a tremendous effect to Sabah in terms of spill-over businesses.
He disclosed that he will be making a working visit to Indonesia soon to establish good rapport and ensure Sabah can work together with the neighbouring country.-SabahNewsToday