Friday, September 30, 2011

12 per cent increase in tourist arrivals to Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has for the first time, experienced a double-digit growth in tourist arrivals this year, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said the number of tourist arrivals increased to 12 per cent as of July, contributed by countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.

He said Sabah usually experienced a six percent increase at the highest. “The most significant arrivals were from China with a majority of high end tourists.

“There was even one month when their arrival shot up to 42 per cent,” he told reporters after representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the launch of the Accor Hotels’ Sabah website here yesterday.

Masidi also expects visitors from China, with about 76,200 as of July, to possibly overtake those from Korea which is currently at around 80,000.

Tourist arrivals from peninsular have also contributed to the sharp increase in the number of visitors.

“I recently met with the new chairman and managing director of Malaysia Airlines and suggested that the airline start direct flights between Kota Kinabalu, Beijing and Shanghai.

“We need to give MAS some time to adjust to their new management. But the feedback that I got was that it is only the issue of availability of aircraft,” he said.

He said at present, there was only the Kota Kinabalu-Hong Kong route being served.

“We expect a big influx of visitors from China if Kota Kinabalu is connected to more cities in China, with the country fast becoming a world economy, and more millionaires being created there than in any part of the world,” Masidi added.

On the event, he welcomed Accor’s initiative as it was a strategy that not only benefit Accor group, but most importantly is that it could introduce Sabah to the world with only a click.

“What we need is to ensure we have good service quality. This is also an effort to educate the world community that we have a state called Sabah in Malaysia, and Sabah can offer travel products superior or better, especially in tourism to the world.

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