Friday, December 09, 2005

Sabah to step up tourism drive

KOTA KINABALU: The Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry will continue to step up tourism promotions to achieve the target of 2.7 million visitors by 2007 and four million visitors by 2010.

And, at the same time, it will would come up with more attractive travel packages besides creating new tourism products that are of high quality.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat who also heads the ministry said this when winding up his speech at the State Assembly sitting yesterday.

“We are confident that once the upgrading of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport is completed in 30 months or by 2008, we will be able to bring in more direct flights to Sabah,” he said.

According to him, the Immigration Department recorded 1,507,230 visitors including 630,167 foreign visitors during the first 10 months of this year..

“It shows an increase of 5.7 per cent in arrivals compared to the same period last year during which, there were 629,618 foreign and 796,177 domestic visitors,” he said.

On the issues brought up by backbenchers, Kah Kiat said his ministry has plans to carry out a study on tourism development in the interior covering districts like Tambunan, Keningau, Nabawan and Tenom.

He said any development in these areas would be carried out in the Ninth Malaysia Plan. He also said a ‘tourism circuit’ would be created with the completion of the Keningau-Nabawan-Kalabakan road in the interior.

Meanwhile, Kah Kiat said Sabah now has 70 direct international flights operating from nine countries as it continues to enjoy an increase in the tourist arrivals.

Direct flights are from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Bangkok, South Korea, Taiwan, Brunei and soon Singapore.

These flights are operated by Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, Dragon Air, Asiana and Thai Air Asia.

He said the latest to come would be the twice-weekly flights from Singapore via SilkAir which commenced on Monday. He said international flights to Sabah were further supported by the increasing number of scheduled charter flights and other charter flights.

There are 26 direct charter flights from China alone including 15 from Shanghai, six from Hangzhou and five from Guangzhou.

“These direct charter flights were from January to September this year,” he said, adding that Korean Air also operated 19 direct charter flights to Sabah.

And, Asiana Airlines from South Korea, he said, was expected to bring up to 50,000 tourists to Sabah by next March since it operated the charter flights in April this year.

The ministry has been allocated almost RM87 million for next year’s expenditure.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

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