Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cheaper overseas flights hurt domestic tourism

Kota Kinabalu: Cheaper popular overseas destinations are taking the shine away from domestic tourism, especially with more very low-cost travel packages.

State, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, said while this was good, it gives people a chance to travel to popular places at a very low cost, it also posed a challenge in the effort to attract more domestic tourists to Sabah.

"For example, even going to London nowadays only costs about RM199 and even RM99, I mean how to beat, because going to Tawau costs over RM300," he said.

"But I believe over time, people will look at the quality of travel.

We are talking about travelling within Malaysia, which I must admit has not reached the desired level," he told reporters after he officiated at the opening of a three-day Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) Fair 2011 at Suria Sabah Mall, here, Saturday.

Masidi also said the Ministry will be going on a rather aggressive tourism campaign to sell Sabah in Peninsular Malaysia.

"We are working with radio stations, we are talking to a few other agencies in KL with which we can work together to bring in more West Malaysians to Sabah for holidays," he said.

"I think what has not been communicated is the quality of products we have in Sabah. I think it is about our ability to tell them (West Malaysians) what we have to offer in Sabah," he added.

He said over the last year there has been a marginal increase in tourists from West Malaysia to Sabah, about 3 per cent.

Masidi, in his speech earlier, also mentioned that the Ministry wants to attract more tourists from southern China.

"We hope in the not too distant future, Malaysia Airlines or any other airline would assist in this effort by considering to provide a direct flight between Beijing and Kota Kinabalu, as well as to Shanghai," he said.

On travel tours to Japan being cancelled following the earthquake-tsunami disaster, Masidi said there have been requests made locally for rescheduling of tours to Japan.

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