Abdul Karim: Hotel industry’s survival boosted by Sarawak’s decision to use local hotels as quarantine centres

Abdul Karim speaking at the press conference as Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kii listens in.

KUCHING, Oct 11: The Sarawak government’s approach to using local hotels as quarantine centres has helped the hotel industry to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic for the past one-and-a-half years.

According to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, the approach taken by Sarawak is different from other states.

“Why did we use hotels as quarantine centres, and not schools or dormitories? Partly is because we wanted to support the hotel industry, and to enable them to have a basis to survive,” he said during a press conference held before flagging off DayakDaily’s D’Drift expedition, here today.

He was responding to a question from a reporter regarding how many hotels have been closed Sarawak since the pandemic began.

Abdul Karim noted, initially some of the hotels were reluctant to participate because they assumed that those who are quarantined have tested positive.

Actually, he explained, that is not the case as 99 per cent of those who stay in hotels, are those arriving from Kuala Lumpur and other destinations, and they are not positive.

“Then those hotels which were not participating were calling us up later asking to be part of it, and we have been able to keep the hotel industry in sustenance, which other states are not doing,” he added.

Abdul Karim also pointed out that for those in the tourism industry, such as resorts owners, tour guides, as well as boat owners, the State government has been helping them through the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS).

He said from BKSS 1.0 up to BKSS 7.0, many forms of assistance have been provided, including to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), roadside traders, travel agents, tour guides, boat owners, penambang, and more.

“It might not help them in total for the last one year, but at least it helps to reduce the burden. I am not sure whether other state governments are doing the same, but what I know is that most of the hotels which closed down, the bulk of them are in Penang.

“I’ve not heard of any hotel closing down in Sarawak. If there has been, I would like to know, was it because of Covid or other reasons,” he said. — DayakDaily