KUALA LUMPUR : Newly installed Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz is saying that officers from his ministry helped rescue Sabah’s tourism industry following the Sulu intrusion in Tanduo, Lahad Datu.
He said he was thankful to have very dedicated officers who proved capable of saving the tourism industry in Sabah from being affected by the intrusion by militants from southern Philippines in February this year.
Nazri said the latest statistics showed that there was no marked drop in the number of tourists visiting Sabah, after his working visit to the JKKN office at the Bukit Perdana government complex in Jalan Datuk Onn, here, Thursday.
He did not elaborate nor did he say what role the federal ministry had played. At the time of the incident, Datuk Ng Yen Yen was the tourism minister.
However, Tourism Malaysia, which comes under the ministry, did launch several tour packages to the east coast in particular, though how popular it has been with Malaysians is yet to be known.
Nazri was in Sabah over the Kaamatan weekend where he visited several tourism places including a homestay in Papar and the famed Sunday Gaya Street Fair.
Nazri, in the BERNAMA report also told reporters that he will be asking for an additional allocation of RM300 million for the ministry as the RM358 million allocated by the government for 2013 is insufficient.
He said additional funds are required since the ministry has taken over the National Culture and Arts Department (JKKN) from the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry since May.
“The tourism industry is a vital source of income for the country; every ringgit given is not money spent but an investment for the country,” he said.
Nazri said he wanted the allocation for the ministry to reach the target of RM700 million this year although its budget for 2013 saw a 42 per cent increase.
As the new tourism minister, he admitted that he still had much more to learn about the country’s tourism industry.
Nazri added: “Many people criticised me after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak appointed me as the new tourism minister as I have been known as a fiery minister, so they questioned how a fierce person like me could attract tourists.(BI)