Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sabah targets 2.95m tourist arrivals for this year

Kota Kinabalu: The targeted tourist arrivals to Sabah would be revised to a slightly lower figure of between 2.93 million and 2.95 million, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Masidi noted that Sabah had an impressive figure last year when it broke the all time record with total tourist arrivals of 2,844,597.

"I think we worked too hard last year, so we are going to revise it slightly down because the arrival last year means it's 13.6 per cent increase," he said during the launching of 'KK City Boardwalk' here, Friday.

"Thus, we want to be a bit realistic in the arrival and perhaps we are targeting 2.93 or 2.95 which would mean three to four per cent increase," said Masidi.

"I hope this doesn't de-motivate hoteliers, I'm a very realistic person and we know some routes were cut by Malaysian Airlines (MAS), such as Australia and Japan.

"Thus, I am taking that into consideration but I believe we will still be able to come up in a positive territory next year," said Masidi who expressed disappointment with the move taken by MAS.

"It's a very serious problem because we are living in an island, we are not like those living in Kuala Lumpur, where people can travel by train from Singapore or from the North.

"Obviously we in Sabah cannot go to Kuala Lumpur by sampan (boat), it has to be air service, which is why connectivity is very important to the tourism industry," he said.

"Last year, since MAS reduced some direct flights, we had to redirect our move, which is why Sabah Tourism is now looking more towards the north which is China.

"Last year, the Chinese arrivals went up by 37 per cent although China has no direct link with us, except through Hong Kong and I think it will increase in the future.

"We have talked to a couple of Chinese airlines and one airline has already started a charter flight and I will be going up to Guangzhou on Feb 26 to meet up with another airline.

"Hopefully there will be another airline from China who will start with initially charter flight and if the business is good, will continue as a scheduled flight," he said.

'Last year, tourist arrivals from Australia went up by 33.9 per cent and I was told by our agent in Perth that all the guests are now going to Singapore Airlines, just so they could come here.

"As a Malaysian, I'm sad that we have a national airline that should be serving us, but seems like they have taken a drastic step which may not serve the interests of Malaysians in Sabah and its own interest," he said.

He explained that the government has taken steps to set up a task force under the chairmanship of the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to look into the issue.

"The other members of the task force is of course myself, the Sarawak Minister of Tourism and MAS Chairman and hopefully we can come to an amicable solution soon, " he said.

"This is an assurance to the people in Kota Kinabalu, especially those in the business sector that we want to make sure that the business created by the tourism industry will continue to flourish," said Masidi.

Continue reading at: Sabah targets 2.95m tourist arrivals for this year

No comments: