Kota Kinabalu: Sarawak registered more foreign and local tourist arrivals than Sabah last year.
Sarawak Immigration Department indicated there were more than 7.2 million travellers to Sarawak, while Sabah Tourism Board indicated that Sabah attracted less than three million visitors in 2015.
Probably the incidents of kidnapping and intrusion in Sabah's East Coast had an adverse effect on the tourism industry.
Statistics show 1.9 million Bruneians visited Sarawak compared to only 79,140 in Sabah. Sarawak also beats Sabah in Indonesian and Filipino tourists.
There were 500,000 Indonesian tourists to Sarawak compared to only 185,000 to Sabah and 130,000 Filipino tourists to Sarawak compared to only 45,000 to Sabah.
As for China tourists, Sabah beats Sarawak 228,910 to 40,000 due to closer air links and more flights because even Sarawakians need to transit in Sabah for cheaper flights to China.
Advantage-wise, from closer air links, Sabah had 121,170 South Korean tourists while Sarawak received 50,000 Singaporean tourists in 2015.
Brunei tourists benefit both Sarawak and Sabah, but more visitors due to closer proximity to Miri which is boosting tourist arrivals for Sarawak.
Fewer Bruneians visit Sabah following the implementation of GST last year, and visitors also have to go through numerous checkpoints, which is noted by retailers and hoteliers, as local tourist consumer sentiment in the country remains weak.
For Sarawak, Sungai Tujuh (Miri-Brunei border) recorded the highest number of arrivals (23.21 per cent of total travellers), supporting a robust tourism and hospitality market in Miri compared to other major towns in Sarawak.
With its close distance to Brunei, Miri's tourism mostly relies on its neighbouring country. Brunei visitors visit Miri more than any other towns in Sarawak since Miri is the nearest destination especially for vacation, shopping, food and leisure.
The occupancy rate for selected 3 to 5 star hotels located within Kota Kinabalu's Central Business District and city fringe areas such as Karamunsing and Sembulan, averaged at 60 per cent for 2015, a slight decline compared to about 65 per cent for 2014.
The hotel sector in Kota Kinabalu saw the opening of the 4-star Avangio Hotel at Metro Town in Kolombong with 103 guestrooms.
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