'Tourists still flocking to Singamata despite setbacks'

'Tourists still flocking to Singamata despite setbacks'

KOTA KINABALU - Closing resorts in Semporna in the wake of the MH370 crisis and the recent abductions at the Singamata Reef Resort will not prevent future kidnap attempts, says Sabah Tourism, Culture and Envi­ronment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said that despite the recent setbacks, tourists were still flocking to the resorts, though not as many as previously.

"From what we see, the MH370 incident is affecting tourist arrivals more than the recent kidnappings," he said, adding that the Government, together with the security forces, were doing what they could to ensure the safety of visitors.

"We are doing our best. However, this does not mean that we will close all resorts in Semporna."

Masidi was speaking at a "topping up" ceremony at the new Gleneagles Hospital here yesterday.

"Of course, there will be repercussions from these incidents. However, we see tourists still coming to Sabah," he said.

He added that all the island resorts were still taking in guests.

Masidi reminded the operators to register their foreign workers with the authorities.

"Those who do not will face legal action," he warned, saying Sabah was optimistic that it could draw 3.4 million visitors this year.

On the new hospital, he said Gleneagles' entry into Sabah would further help to develop the state's socio-economy.

"It will complement our ambition of becoming a medical tourism hub in this region," Masidi said, adding that the hospital would be completed by the first quarter of next year.

"Patients need not go to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, or to other countries to get first-class treatment."

Datuk Khairil Anuar Abdullah, who is chairman of Pantai Holdings Bhd, a partner of the Gleneagles hospital chain, said the opening of the new medical centre would encourage local medical specialists who were currently serving abroad to return home to Sabah.

"There will be various posts for them," he promised.

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