Sunday, April 04, 2010

Sabah tourism will soar despite Open Sky Policy

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board (STB) yesterday refuted the recent statements made by Zainal Ajamain, Chief Assistant to the Executive Chairman of Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd regarding the number of visitor arrivals to Malaysia.

In a statement issued by Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamood, the Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board stated that Zainal’s claim that Kuala Lumpur received 22 million visitors annually is wrong. The 22 million arrivals are for the whole of Malaysia, including to Sabah and Sarawak, in 2008. Visitor arrivals into Malaysia (including Sabah and Sarawak) in 2009 were 23.6 million. The statement by Zainal that Kota Kinabalu received only 400,000 arrivals is also wrong, he added.

He explained that Open Sky Policy is not an issue to tourism arrivals in Sabah. Foreign airlines have no restriction to fly to Kota Kinabalu. It has been practically an Open Sky Policy for Sabah for the last few years with several foreign airlines having established routes and direct flights to Kota Kinabalu, namely Korean Airlines, Aseana Air, Silk Air, Jetstar, Royal Brunei Airlines, Dragonair and Cebu Pacific. As far as airlines are concerned, the real issue is one of ‘commercial viability’ of flying to Sabah.

“Over the past ten years, a total of 16.8 million visitors came to Sabah. They arrived by air, land and sea. Visitor arrivals to Sabah increased three folds from 770,574 in 2000 to 2,246,068 in 2009. This represented double digit (12%) compounded growth annually. Last year, the tourism industry contributed RM3.9 billion to the State economy,” he said.

He added that the fact that most major hotels and resorts in Sabah enjoy above 70 per cent occupancy is an indication of growing tourist arrivals in Sabah. Kota Kinabalu is also mushrooming with new budget hotels and enjoying good occupancy. Returning Sabah students for the holidays go home to their families and do not stay in hotels.

Continue reading at: Sabah tourism will soar despite Open Sky Policy

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