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Growing confidence among visitors on security and safety in Sabah’s the east coast: Joniston

Joniston (left) and Julinus (right)  engaging Italian Ambassador Massimo Rustico

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has taken a proactive initiative to engage countries which have issued travel advisory to its citizens against travel to the east coast of Sabah.

Chaired by STB Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the engagement held in Kuala Lumpur on May 20 aimed to update the embassies on the enhanced security measures in Sabah’s east coast, with the objective of getting the unfavourable advisory revised.

The engagement was attended by European Union Deputy Head of Delegation Timo Goosman, Ambassador of France Axel Cruau, Ambassador of Italy Massimo Rustico, Ambassador of Finland Sami Leino, Ambassador of Norway Morten Paulsen and representatives from the Australian, United States, and German embassies.

Joniston, who is also Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said the diplomats were given a briefing by a senior officer from the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) on the various measures taken to enhance security on the east coast.

Sabah recorded 8,359 travellers from Europe and the United Kingdom and 936 from Oceania to the east coast during the first four months of this year.

“This indicates a growing confidence among visitors on security and safety in the east coast,” Joniston said.

The diplomats who attended the engagement took note and acknowledged the security measures put in place by ESSCOM and assured that they would convey it to their respective governments.

Commending the STB for initiating the engagement, Goosman said the information relayed to them was essential for EU member countries when deciding to review the advisory issued.

Concurring with Goosman,  Ambassador Rustico hoped that such engagement could be held regularly to enable them to get the latest security updates in the concerned areas.

Ambassador Cruau believed that with heightened security measures, more French nationals would be visiting the many attractions on the east coast of Sabah.

STB Chief Executive Officer Julinus Jimit said European arrivals are important to Sabah, and STB will continue to carry out promotional efforts in Europe aggressively.

He said the Europe region showed a robust recovery of 105 per cent from the pre-pandemic level with 18,196 visitors, a 35.8 per cent increase during the first three months of this year.

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