The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) concurs with Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal that the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project will create employment opportunities for many Sabahans and greatly beneficial to the local tourism sector.
MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang says "We urge the State Government to proceed with the project after weighing all the pros and cons provided by all quarters to ensure maximum benefit for the people.â€
"We also have the same opinion that no development there should be carried out at the expense of the people" MATTA said.
"Safeguards are in place as our Chief Minister had also assured that an in-depth study will be carried out to determine if the project should be scaled down or if other necessary actions be taken such as minimising effect on the environment.â€
"The economic initiative is timely as the local tourism industry needs to inject a high impact tourism development to bring Sabah to the next level. Currently, the city itself is stagnant and stale with limited numbers of attractions offer to the visitors. The completion of the project would lure high-spending tourists and long-haul markets especially from China, UK, Europe/UK and Asia Pacific regions.â€
"The current tourism business landscape that highly depends on few key regional markets may not be sustainable on the long term for the State. This is crucial as local community is highly dependent on tourism activities for livelihood, and we believe that the TAED project can create significant local employment for the younger generation and stimulate economic activities through the whole tourism supply chain and multiplier effect.â€
"According to the Malaysia Statistics Department, Sabah recorded the highest number of unemployed graduates of 27,540 in 2016 compared to other states in Malaysia.
Hence, there are many Sabahans employed in West Malaysia due to lack of employment opportunities in Sabah.â€
"As the total tourist arrivals in 2017 have increased by a 7.5 per cent growth to 3.7 million from 3.4 million in 2016 indicating a robust tourism industry how long can we hold on with the existing tourism facilities.â€
"The tourism development needs to consider the sensitivity of the local community and in this case with regards to environmental issues and public access to the Tanjung Aru beach. On the provision of adequate public amenities and roads leading to the Tanjung Aru development, MATTA hopes the state government can provide the assurance to the public.â€
"We recommend independent directors ought to be appointed to TAED Sdn Bhd as the current structure needs further enhancement with governance and accountability. It is also vital to increase the public area to boost public confidence to avoid perception that the project is only for affluent visitors.â€
"It is not easy to secure such a huge foreign investment with stringent terms and conditions. We believe this project has a capacity to attract more international chain hotel network and uplift the tourism industry to another level of playing field in this region. The average of our 5-star beach resorts are 15 â€“ 20 years old. The industry need new and better products to stay competitive.â€
Tan also acknowledged that there is a need to conduct further in-depth study on Traffic Impact especially the concern of access to the TAED area and review the public entrance to the Prince Philip's Park. Public accessibility to the beach must be guaranteed for perpetual, concluded Tan.