Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sabah rises further in Malaysia tourism thanks to air connections

To firmly establish a destination on the tourism world map today, it is not only a matter of natural or cultural attractions. Air connections are of crucial importance. In East Malaysia, the State of Sabah has been actively promoting entry access to its capital Kota Kinabalu, providing even funds for airlines keen to fly into it.Combined to an aggressive strategy of Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAHB)to air carriers, it has worked out miracles. After five years, Sabah has won the battle for notoriety.

Over the last years, Sabah has indeed enjoyed healthy growth rates in its tourist arrivals. In 2000, the State recorded only 0.77 million tourist entries of which 0.41 million were foreigners. In 2009, total arrivals topped 2.25 million while foreign arrivals reached 0.56 million. This represents respective increases of 192% and 36.6%. From January to May 2010, Sabah has seen tourist arrivals growth accelerating as recession’s effects faded away. During the first five months of the year, total arrivals are up 8.1% reaching almost a million.

Kota Kinabalu airport is now firmly established as Malaysia’s second largest airport in terms of passengers’ traffic and served destinations, just behind Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian Airports (MAHB) Managing Director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad aims to develop the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) into a regional hub. Providing financial incentives and marketing support, the airport’s company is focusing on attracting new air services from Australia and North East Asia -specifically out of Japan, Korea and Greater China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong).

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