Tour operators unhappy with Mt Kinabalu Management
KOTA KINABALU: Tour operators yesterday took to task the management company in charge of accommodation on Mount Kinabalu.
The operators said many climbers reported reaching Laban Rata, near the peak of Southeast Asia’s tallest mountain, only to be told by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL) that their pre-booked accommodations were not available.Several tour operators also reported having booked accommodation at Laban Rata but Sabah Parks had run out of climbing permits.Tour operators raised these issues at a dialogue between the Sabah chapter of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents and the Sabah Tourism Ministry.
Sabah Parks director Paul Basintal said the discrepancy was because his agency and SSL did not have a uniform booking system.“If the Ministry of Finance can implement a proposed computerised system it will be a lot more efficient so that everything will be updated online for everyone,” he said, adding that the park issued 149 climbing permits daily.
Basintal said it was a policy that climbers first obtained permits before making bookings for accommodation.The permit fee per person is RM30 for Malaysians and RM100 for non-Malaysians. Tour operators also complained that they were made to sell a three-day-two-night package by SSL.The package is much more expensive and less popular than the traditional one-night option.
Tourism, Culture and Environment permanent secretary Datuk Susannah Liaw said the problem actually lies with the package and not the climbing permits.“The problem lies with SSL's packages that are inconveniencing climbers, so I think SSL must work with tour operators and look at how to solve the problem so that its a win-win situation for both,” said Liaw.The dialogue also discussed the 120 diving permits a day to Sipadan island, which has to be divided between 12 diving operators.