Effect Of Chinese Tourist Ban To Kota Kinabalu Local Scuba Diving Industry – Recently on early February of year 2020, Sabah State Government imposed a no-entry band to all Chinese tourists.
This means any people from mainland China that holds China mainland passport are banned from entering Kota Kinabalu. Foreigners and Malaysians who are non-residents of Sabah with recent travel history to mainland China for the past two weeks will not be allowed to enter the state starting from 8 February 2020.
Lack of Chinese tourists in Kota Kinabalu gave very huge impact to scuba diving centers and other business outside scuba diving that caters for Chinese tourists since 2016. We used to see group of Chinese tourits walking around the city everyday. Now, city of Kota Kinabalu turns quiet without Chinese tourists.
Chinese restaurants in Gaya Street are empty or lack of diners. Welcome Seafood, the most popular seafood restaurant in Kota Kinabalu also left with no customers at all, or only small number of customers that are local Malaysian Chinese.
Some souvenir shops are empty without customers, especially souvenir shops run by local Chinese owners. Because of the ban, most hotels in Kota Kinabalu also has low number of incoming customers.
We heard news that several other small dive centers in Semporna also has been closed due to no incoming customers. Some business outlets laid off their workers or gave long holidays to their permament staff due to lack of customers since the ban started.
As for Chinese nationals who are still in Sabah, they have been advised to depart or return before expiry of their visa. How are doing after these circumstances?
We still go out scuba diving in Kota Kinabalu as usual. Our PADI scuba instructors still go out teaching PADI scuba courses as usual. The main difference is that we dont have so many dive guests just like before.
We still receive incoming dive guests among local Malaysians, from Singapore, tourists from Europe and several tourists from Australia. Go Aquatic used to cater so many Chinese tourist for their scuba diving in Kota Kinabalu.
Some of them joined us in our daily leisure dive trip in Kota Kinabalu to improve their scuba diving skills before going for holiday to anoter diving destinations such as Mabul island or Sipadan island in Semporna.
But now, we think because of the travel ban, we will not receive any other incoming customers from mainland China, if coronavirus threat still active. Sabah Tourism Board statistics show Chinese tourists were the largest number of foreigners to visit the state on 2019, totalling 558,903 people.
On 2019, state of Sabah received 3.76 million visitors, comprising 2.44 million domestic tourists and 1.32 million foreign tourists. That is a huge number. The biggest is East Malaysia.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels reported that Sabah suffered from up to 29,874 room cancellations from January 22 onwards, with some RM10 million in loss of revenue. Chinese tourists contribute hugely to the tourism industry in Sabah.
We really hope situation will get better, soon. Lets pray!