SEMPORNA: The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) will issue red notices to operators who do not clean up their act, following complaints from tourists on the town’s filthy conditions and lack of hygiene.
Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said despite earlier warnings to deal with the issue immediately, nothing has changed and this will further tarnish the image of the country.
Among the issues that are putting off tourists to Semporna are complaints about its dirty environment, with rubbish strewn about causing a foul stench, he said.
“There are also issues, such as, food poisoning, below par hospitality services which are overpriced (dirty towels, pillowcases and sheets), presence of pests and other problems.
“If the issues are not resolved, I will instruct MOTAC to issue red notices as the last resort,” he said in a statement today.
Tiong said there were recent complaints on food poisoning cases, where an affected individual even had to be hospitalised for intravenous (IV) treatment, which could threaten the health of the public and tourists.
He said the issue has also been referred to the MOTAC office in Sabah and state Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment (KePKAS) for immediate action.
“I urge Sabah MOTAC, KePKAS and the relevant parties to urgently submit their proposals and action plans to solve this matter as well as improve weaknesses, towards providing a better experience for tourists,” he added.
He added that KePKAS should also inspect all tourist spots both in the town and the beaches and collaborate with the relevant parties to clean and upgrade the areas.
“All parties, including resort, restaurant, hotel and homestay operators as well as local authorities need to take immediate steps to upgrade and improve all tourism related aspects,” he said.
Tiong said the matter had also been raised in a post-Cabinet meeting and a team led by Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan will be visiting Sabah in the near future for an inspection.