Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sabah’s tourism industry is on right track

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s tourism industry is on the right track as the target of 2.63 million arrivals for this year is in sight.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun disclosed that for the first time ever, the state achieved double digit growth of 15 per cent from January to September this year.

“We owe this to many factors, especially, the steady air accessibility into Sabah, and the economic and political stability of the Asia region and Australia,” he said in his speech at the Sabah Tourism Awards 2011 at a resort here, last night.

He noted that the direct flights from Perth have contributed to an increase of almost 16 per cent of Australian arrivals to Sabah.

“It is my sincere hope that Royal Brunei Airlines would recommence its flights in Australia to facilitate more Australian arrivals.

“Our source markets in China and Hong Kong register the highest increase of over 38.5 per cent arrivals up to September this year. Despite the tsunami tragedy in March this year, Japan arrivals to Sabah increased more than 22 per cent. Korean arrivals increased more than 11 per cent,” he stated.

China will continue to be a major driving force in the growth of international tourism and to sustain our industry, we need to cater to the demand of this important market segment as even the USA and Europe are embracing China, he said.

As such, he said facilities and infrastructure in Sabah are developing with the demands of tourism and the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will be operational 24 hours when the runway is completed in April 2012.

“In the past three years, Sabah lost many charter flights opportunities from China, Korea and even Russia due to the curfew-operation on KKIA. We will work to tap these opportunities in 2012,” he remarked.

The tourism sector has seen marked growth as the number of hotels has increased from 443 to 500 hotels since 2009 to 2011, he said.

Under the Sabah Development Corridor, he said there are five and six-star beach resorts to be built north and beyond the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort… all the way up to the Usukan Bay in Kota Belud and onward to Kudat.

“This is identified as the ‘Sabah Gold Coast’ where the most beautiful beaches in Malaysia and South East Asia are found,” he said.

The east coast offers bountiful marine paradise and a gateway to the world’s best dive site as Semporna and its many beautiful islands are attracting global tourism and non-divers as well.

Besides that, he said Sandakan, Sukau, Tabin, Danum Valley, and Maliau Basin are renowned for its eco tourism.

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