Monday, April 01, 2013

Sabah’s tourism industry can pick up after Lahad Datu crisis

Sabah’s tourism industry has the potential to pick up after a dip in tourist arrivals and hotel bookings due to the Lahad Datu incident.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said negative perceptions about the incident have affected the tourism industry in Sabah, with the hotel industry in Kota Kinabalu being the worst hit as as it is the transit point to other parts in Sabah.

But Masidi said Lahad Datu is outside the major tourism areas, and expressed confidence that Sabah’s tourism industry would grow with aggressive promotions and the emergence of Malindo Air.

He was speaking to reporters at a media familiarisation trip to Kota Kinabalu organised by Malindo Air recently.

Malindo Air, a joint venture between Malaysia’s National Aerospace and Defence Industries and Lion Air of Indonesia, began its inaugural flight on March 22 with three departures daily to Kota Kinabalu and four departures to Kuching from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

It plans to fly eight times daily to Kota Kinabalu by year-end.

Malindo Air, with competitive one-way fares from RM68 to Kota Kinabalu, is expected to end the uncompetitive price structure in Sabah and Sarawak between Malaysia’s two major airlines after the termination of Firefly’s service to Kota Kinabalu.

The completion of KLIA2 (the new international airport hub for low-cost airlines) on June 28 is also expected to bring more local and international tourists to Sabah and expand tourism revenue for Malaysia’s second biggest state.

Philip D. Theseira, General Manager of Horizon Hotel, a four-star hotel in Kota Kinabalu, told Bernama that China is a big market for the state’s hotel industry, with Europe another upcoming market.

Theseira said the hotel currently enjoys a 70 per cent occupancy rate, with full occupancy during the holiday peak season.