Friday, January 18, 2008


Bigger tourism growth for Sabah this year
Sabah tourism is heading towards a stronger growth and on the right path to reel in more tourists, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
Masidi in expressing his confidence, said the tourist arrivals, especially for international visitors, have recorded a very healthy increase while current indications are pointing at even a bigger growth this year.
He pointed that a total of 861,491 foreign tourists visited Sabah from January to October last year, representing a staggering increase of 29 percent compared to 665,308 visitors for the same period in 2006.
Domestic tourists remain the main tourists group visiting Sabah after more than 1.3 million visitors from Sarawak and Peninsular spent their holidays in the State. This represents an increase of 10.7 percent compared to 1.96 million visitors recorded in the previous year.
Up to November last year, the total tourist arrivals recorded were 2.09 million, 17.4 percent higher compared to 1.68 million recorded in 2006, said Masidi.
This year, the figure is expected to continue to soar with more tourists, particularly from the Asian region planning to visit Sabah, he said.
For this coming Chinese New Year celebration, he said Sabah is expecting higher number of tourists especially from southern China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who are eager to spend the festive season in Sabah.
To cater for visiting Taiwanese and Chinese tourists, he said Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will be handling an additional of 22 chartered and five regular flights from these countries.
"We are expecting the arrival of some 5,000 Chinese visitors for the Chinese New Year alone. We thank Malaysia Airport Berhad (MAB) for loosening the flight restriction schedule and allowing more flights to come in. This will translate into higher tourist arrivals, especially those from China," he said.
Apart from China and Taiwan, Filipino tourists coming to Sabah via Manila are also showing an upward trend, he said.
To further strengthen its tourism sector, he said Sabah is looking to position itself as a shopping destination in addition to eco­tourism destination.
"In addition we are also working towards bringing more high-end tourists. Now we are not only concerned about the number of tourists but also the amount they spend," he said.
With nine major shopping complexes being built and expected to be ready for operation soon, he said Kota Kinabalu will be an interesting shopping destination and it is only a matter of how tourism operators can capitalise on this new facilities for their benefit.