KOTA KINABALU: The Congress of Unions of Employees in Sarawak’s public and civil service (Cuepacs) want airlines to adopt a low-fare policy throughout the year.

In calling for the GST to be reduced to 3 per cent for the domestic sector, Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun pointed out that domestic tourism in Sabah dropped by 0.4 per cent for the period January to July this year compared with the same period last year.

“GST may be one of the factors that contributed to the drop, although there are other factors like the economic downturn,” said Masidi on the sidelines of a talk, ‘Leading Sabah’s Tourism through Trying Times’ at the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) here during the weekend.

The economy could also be why Malaysians are more careful when travelling, or only travel to destinations nearby, he added in a report in Borneo Post.

Cuepacs Sarawak president Ahmad Malie, in elaborating on his remarks, said on Sunday that the public perception was that airlines hike fares during school holidays.

“During school holidays, the airlines should lower their fares,” he argued. “This will encourage families to spend their holidays together.”

School holidays, he added, were also an opportunity for civil servants throughout the country to return to their hometowns with their families.

“Airline companies are racing to reap profits by hiking up the fare during school holiday seasons. Sometimes, it (the fare) touches RM1,000 for a one-way trip,” complained Ahmad. “Such a policy by airline companies should not be allowed to continue.”

Masidi reckons that cheaper airfares, and lower GST as well, will encourage national integration.

Sabah was coming up with tourism products along the west coast for “timid” travellers i.e. those who want to skip the east coast, assured Masidi.

“Actually, if something happens in Perlis, it shouldn’t affect Johor for example. No country can guarantee 100 per cent security.”

Likewise, he said, if there’s an incident in Sandakan or Tawau, it should not affect Kota Kinabalu which is 45 minutes away by air.

“Currently tourism industry investors have a tendency to be in the West Coast,” said Masidi in flagging off the Borneo Safari Sabah International Offroad Challenge in the Sabah capital on Sunday. “We have beaches that are more beautiful in Kudat and Kota Belud in the north.”

“Kuala Penyu along the west coast is beautiful as well.”

One bright spot along the east coast, said Masidi, were the resorts in Semporna which were still full.

the source:http:www.freemalaysiatoday.com