by Jenne Lajiun
Chan (left) speaking to reporters yesterday.
KOTA KINABALU 15/03/2013: Many hotels in Sabah are already feeling the negative impact following the foreign armed intrusion in Lahad Datu.
According to Christopher Chan, president of the Sabah Hotel Association (SHA), some hotels have experienced a drop of 30 per cent in their room occupancy beginning early this month.
Many also experienced a drop of between 30 per cent and 40 per cent in their income as government departments were cancelling events that were supposed to take place at the respective hotels, Chan told a press conference at a hotel here yesterday,.
The drop in income due to the drop of foreign arrivals was between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, he said.
Website hotel and tour booking portals have also indicated a drop of more than 20 per cent in online bookings for hotels and tours offered in Sabah, he said.
“It is a worrying figure…The situation is not good despite the claim made by the relevant authorities that tourism is business as usual in Sabah,”
And the cancellation of government events at hotels had been a blow to the hotel industry as well as the food and beverage industry, he said.
“We are concerned because while we are working closely with the government, the cancellation of functions and events organized by government departments at our hotels is a worrying trend and this cannot be allowed to continue because its impact is very heavy on us and our members. The industry won’t be able to survive if this situation is allowed to carry on,” he said.
Some hotels have reported that between five and 10 government functions that were supposed to be held at their respective venues have been cancelled, leaving a big drop in their revenue.
Citing examples, he said the cancellation of government events in the city was incomprehensible since the incident was occurring in the East Coast of Sabah.
“Nevertheless, we are seeing even the postponement of birthday parties. This indicates the public lack of confidence in the overall situation…even our Sunday’s Gaya Street has experienced a drop of visitors,” he said.
He added that the government and its departments have to practise what they preach.
“They cannot say all is fine and go somewhere else for their functions. That mindset has to change, otherwise the tourism sector will die. We need some form of back-up from them…there needs to be a firm action and they need to give us a scenario to guide us how to go about,” he said.
“We seek the authorities to be rational in assuring that the tourism and hospitality industries overcome these difficult times with actions and not merely with words.”
There were over 100 hotels and resorts in Kota Kinabalu, over 50 in Tawau and 15 in Semporna, all lamenting that business was bad, he said.
“Everyone is affected, both the big hotels as well as the small ones.”
Surprisingly, the 30 hotels in Lahad Datu were thriving well as all activities were concentrated there, he said.
Prior to the invasion, hotels in Sabah fared very well.
“Even in January and February, the occupancy rate was good. It began to drop early this month.”
He added that their findings were from the inputs they received from their members during the SHA 35th general meeting which was held two days ago.