Monday, December 04, 2017

Sabah set for new tourist influx record

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah tourism sector is set to create a new record this year as the influx of tourists continue to soar, probably hitting the 3.7 million mark surpassing the targeted 3.55 million.

“In a few weeks (Dec 20), Batik Air (Indonesia) will commence Jakarta-Kota Kinabalu sector, making it the 14th international airline to be served by Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA),” said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

“In the first quarter next year, Kota Kinabalu will be connected to Chengdu, Changsha and Tianjin that used to be charter flights now coming in as scheduled flights,” Masidi disclosed during the bi-annual 11th Sabah Tourism Awards 2017 at a resort here on Saturday.

He also shared that Consul-General of China in Kota Kinabalu Liang Caide is working to mount a scheduled flight from Beijing to Kota Kinabalu either by this month or early next year.

“This is good news for us because the Chinese government is making the arrangement for us and it will be operated by Xiamen Airlines.

“I take this opportunity to thank the Consul-General of China in Kota Kinabalu for giving us the cooperation to bring in more Chinese tourists to Sabah.

“This is another challenge as we are fast running out of hotel rooms; so my message to investors is please facilitate in building 4-5 star hotels because there is a real need for it,” said Masidi.

Up to Oct this year, he said KKIA has welcomed 190 chartered flights from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan making it the second busiest after Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

KKIA is serving 171 international and 410 domestic flights weekly, connected to 16 international destinations via 13 foreign airlines. China and South Korea are the busiest routes with 84 and 35 flights respective per week, he said.

“Cruise season have started. Last week over 3,000 passengers from the European cruise arrived at our port in Kota Kinabalu.

“We are expecting three more cruises by year-end or at least l0,000 more arrivals from all over the world,” said Masidi.

“We will not stop there. When the Sabah International Convention Centre is completed in 2018, the business events industry in Sabah will progress dramatically as the centre had 5,000 seating capacity,” said Masidi.

As of Sept this year, he said Sabah had received closed to 30,000 MICE arrivals generating a revenue of some RM78 million, reflected the readiness of Sabah to stage large scale events and for this, the Sabah Tourism Board will set up MICE section next year.