Tuesday, 5th March, 2002
RM2m Council To Spearhead Labuan's Tourism Industry
By Sohan Das

Labuan: Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Dato Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir announced the formation of a high-powered "Labuan Tourism Action Council" and allocated RM2 million for it to make an immediate start to turn around the island's sagging tourism industry.

Speaking at the launching of Labuan's Mega Sales Carnival at Jalan OKK Awang Besar, Abdul Kadir said RM1 million was setting-up the Council, while another RM1 million, to be allocated annually, is for its operations costs.

"The Council will be supported by a secretariat with full time staff from the tourism industry and it is expected of the Council to produce results at the shortest possible time," Abdul Kadir said.

He added that the Council should think like a businessman and give a sense of urgency in what it was doing and set a deadline to achieve what was targeted for.

He said the Council which would be under the Labuan Corporation (LC) should be seen as a new beginning for the development of the island's tourism industry.

"Brain-storming sessions need to be held so that a new approach and a new attitude would be taken to build the industry and nobody should ever open his mouth to say we cannot do it," Abdul Kadir said.

He also announced that the Tourism Council will be headed by Member of Parliament Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman, while Senator Datuk Mohd Omar Bledram the deputy, and the Chief Executive of the LC Dato Mohd Noor Moktar will be the Executive Officer of the Council.
The committee will be a combination of representatives from the private and public sectors.

On the secretariat of the Council, Abdul Kadir said it should comprise three units - one for promotion and marketing, the other for events and the third for development which would cover making Labuan the premier regional shopping destination.

He said Labuan, as the sole duty-free port, had the potential to achieve such status except an all out effort had to be mounted to get supplies of a wide variety of attractive goods from all over the world.

He said at the moment while some goods here were cheap others were not, and a way had to be found to correct this.

He also directed the new Council to enchance the attraction of historical sites on the island such as the War Memorial by having more information available at the sites. "Historical sites should be regarded as tourism products."

He said Labuan should offer a variety of attractions so as to evade question like how to spend time in Labuan.

Abdul Kadir said it was a cause of concern that Labuan was taking so long to get the benefits of what had been done to the island such as the IOFC and duty-free status.

He said the former Chief Minister Datuk Harris Salleh did the right thing when he made Labuan a Federal Territory just as Sultan of Selangor turned Selangor's capital Kuala Lumpur into FT and now followed by Putra Jaya.

He said Harris had a vision and must have looked at the island's future as prospering under the FT status. What is now needed to be done is to have a focus and be serious in achieving it.

On the Mega Carnival he said he was happy over the response from Labuan shops. More were participating than before but he urged shops to ensure that they brighten and decorate their premises.