Kota Kinabalu: Sabah is the most successful state in the country in terms of tourism whereby 10 per cent of the State’s income is derived from the three million tourists coming to the State every year.
“Hence, if we have fewer tourists coming to Malaysia, it would be quite disaster to us all and our economic growth,” said International Trade and Industry Minister Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed (pic).
The sector stimulates the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and is a catalyst to their economic performance.
He said there is a direct link between tourism and the SMEs as it could determine the performance and sustainability of the SMEs.
“Tourism encourages the development of SMEs in the country such as the restaurants, souvenir shops, buses, taxis and budget hotels, all of which benefit from tourist arrivals,” he said.
Mustapa was giving the latest information on the prospects and development of SMEs including the issues and challenges the operators are facing as well as its potentials during a town hall session with SME entrepreneurs in Sabah, Saturday.
Over 200 people including SME entrepreneurs turned up at the event that was also attended by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Raymond Tan who is also Industrial Development Minister, the Ministry’s permanent secretary Datuk Hashim Paijan and other senior officials.
“It is important to enhance the facilities at all our airports and increase the number of direct flights to main cities in the country so that we can attract tourists to visit (Peninsular) Malaysia as well as Sabah.
“This is because when more tourists come to Sabah, then more SMEs will do better in their business undertakings,” Mustapa said.
He cited Langkawi Island that used to be the poorest in Malaysia 50 years ago but now is the most important tourist hot spot and doing very well in the country.
When Langkawi Island became a duty free island in 1987 or 1988, he said, it became popular with Europeans often visiting the island together with tourists from China as there is a direct flight from the island to China.
“When the tourism sector is booming, SME businesses will also grow and develop positively.
For instance Langkawi has few hundred car rental companies, homestays and restaurants all of which are SMEs as well as buses, vans and vehicles that are patronised by the tourists,” he said.
Source : Daily Express