Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sabah targets 2.6 million tourists next year

By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah is targeting 2.6 million tourists next year compared to this year's 2.3 million. This is in line with its new direction to promote Kota Kinabalu as an international 'shopping holiday'.

"We are confident Sabah could achieve the target. We will work closely with tourism players in the country as well as abroad to make Kota Kinabalu as a 'shopping holiday destination," he said here.

Masidi said with more shopping malls being built, Kota Kinabalu will become a shopping destination to many Asian tourists to complement Sabah's unbeatable natural beauty, nature tourism and shopping. He noted that the opening of Iborneo hyper mall in March next year would be a catalyst to this new tourism product. The confidence of drawing more tourists next year was also based on the double-digit growth in the State's tourists arrivals in the part few years besides several other positive development.

"This included the fact that airlines such as Silkair and Airasia have increased their flight frequencies to Sabah and connectivity to other towns or cities, and the State's rural air services have greatly been enhanced by MasWings," Masidi said.

"We were also made to understand that AirAsia has big plans to expand its routes from Kota Kinabalu to other Asian destinations when they take delivery of new aircraft next year. We will also work closely with other airlines like Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) to bring more Australian tourists via Bandar Seri Begawan," Masidi said.

He said this year's tourists arrivals numbered 1,971, 643 as of October, a 16.4 per cent increase compared to the corresponding period last year.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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