Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sabah eyes RM4.7 billion in tourism receipts this year

KOTA KINABALU: Tourist arrivals to Sabah are expected to increase to 2.6 million with receipts of RM4.7 billion this year from 2.5 million and RM4.4 billion, respectively last year, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Majun.

“We will not be attracting more numbers, but rather focusing on quality, high yield and long staying visitors,” he said at the opening of a forum themed ‘From Philanthropy to Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ at a leading hotel here yesterday.

It was organised by Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

Compared with the national tourist arrivals for 2010 which recorded 26.4 million visitors and generating RM56.5 billion in receipts (estimated at RM1 billion a week), Masidi said Sabah only had a ten per cent share of arrivals and 13 per cent in receipts.

He added that the state needed to develop high quality physical infrastructure, as well as maintaining high standards and services of existing facilities.

“Tourism development in Sabah in the past was guided by the 1st Sabah Tourism Masterplan (STMP) 1996-2010,” he said, adding that the 2nd STMP (2011-2025) has identified many challenges which the state has to overcome to bring the tourism industry to the next level.

“The most challenging is improving infrastructure for accessibility (to interesting spots in the interior).” Citing Gunung Trusmadi, Malaysia’s second highest peak after Mount Kinabalu, he said there was no proper road leading to the foothill.

Masidi said accessibility is a problem in Sabah. Most of the tourist arrivals are by air, whereas in the Peninsula there are good road linkages. He lamented that federal funding was either not enough or came too late for infrastructure development, resulting in insufficient time to implement.

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