BY BORNEOTODAY TEAM
KUALA LUMPUR – Labuan lawmaker Datuk Rozman Isli has a tinge of sadness when he speaks about the (world) decline of the oil and gas industry which he readily admits has hit his island real hard.
But when the subject matter turns to tourism, his eyes lights up with a sparkle there, for this is considered a sunrise industry in duty-free Labuan.
Rozman said the shift to tourism came about with the advent of direct chartered flights from China which made it easier for the mainland Chinese to travel to Labuan.
“Previously, they could only fly in to Kota Kinabalu and then take a connecting flight. This made travelling time longer and inconvenient,” he told reporters on the side-lines of the Umno General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre here Saturday.
“In the past four to six months, more than 2,000 Chinese tourists have already come to Labuan and more chartered flights are on the cards. That is a good start for us. The fall of the Ringgit has made traveling to Malaysia cheaper and Labuan is a new destination.
Rozman, who is also Labuan Umno division chief, said they are now pushing to have direct or more charter flights from China to further boost the tourism industry.
On the future of the oil and gas industry, he said the people are just waiting for the slump to be over and when it recovers, things will improve.
He said many people were affected by the drop in oil prices and that as an elected representative of the people, solutions have to be sought for the people.
Rozman also said that in light of the drop in oil prices, many people in Labuan were affected and expatriate worker had left Labuan in big numbers.
“When people leave Labuan, many businesses were affected especially the smaller businesses, but we hope that the worse is over,” he added.
Touching on party matters, he said that the division has been working hard in line with the party’s goals of increasing new members as well as the number of new voters.
“This Umno General Assembly is expected to be the last one before GE14 so everyone is gearing up to prepare for it.
“We welcome the President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak’s call to foster unity among party members and loyalty to the party and its leadership as well as to prepare for GE14,” Rozman added.