Friday, May 14, 2010

More Singaporeans visit Sabah last year

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 38,948 tourists from Singapore visited Sabah in 2009, more than double that of the previous year.

According to the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) website which lists tourist arrival figures from 1998, the 2009 figure was the first that surpassed the 20,000 mark.

STB has not explained the phenomenal increase. Tour operators attributed it to the open sky policy that allows low-fare airlines such as Jet Star, Silk Air and Air Asia who, together with the regular-fare services provided by Malaysia Airlines, offer at least five direct flights to Singapore daily.

“With their generally higher income and an exchange rate favouring the Singapore Dollar, the Singaporean tourists find our holiday packages, our resorts and the seafood that they love very affordable,” said a tour operator based here.

But when Minister of Industrial Development Datuk Raymond Tan met with Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo in Singapore recently, the discussion was more on how Sabah can derive more economic gains from the island republic whose GDP per capita exceeds US$35,000.

“The Singapore-Sabah ties are under-explored,” Yeo said, and he invited the Sabah government to carry out investment missions to Singapore to create wider awareness about investment opportunities in Sabah and attract Singaporean tourists.

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