Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the State Government is confident the presence of this well-established hotel chain would complement economic growth, especially in the tourism sector in Sabah, and the city in particular.
He said the State Government welcomed the establishment of this reputable hotel that adds to Kota Kinabalu's landscape, which is a milestone for Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and a testimony of the confidence that investors have in Sabah.
"Let me assure Hilton Hotels and Resorts that you have made the right decision to invest in Kota Kinabalu.
I also commend Pekah Hotels for rescuing this project, which was abandoned for a couple of years.
"This hotel has all the attributes for success with its strategic location in the city and latest facilities that create ease for both business and leisure travellers whereby its grand ballroom can accommodate 900 people which will also provide an alternative to those seeking space within the city to hold their events.
"To grow our economy, we do not only need infrastructure development, but also complementary services such as reputable hotels," he said, at its official opening, Saturday.
He hoped the hotel would contribute to the State's long-term goal to establish Sabah as the world's destination of choice in terms of nature diversity, rich cultures as well as business and investments.
"I wish to take this opportunity to call on hotels and resorts in Sabah to create their own niche and to offer something different to guests. Make use of feedback that guests send you to update your services and to cater to the needs of your target market.
"I also wish to see hotel and resort operators in Sabah raising the bar on standards so that your guests will return not only to Sabah, but to your hotel or resort.
"Sabah is known for its biodiversity, clean environment and nature based destinations, and thus, I am urging the resort and hotel operators to be mindful of the need to implement policies that support this," Musa said.
He said Sabah does not only need infrastructure development to boost its economic growth but also complementary services such reputable hotels.
"Tourism will continue to feature as part of Sabah's economic development. With our strong presence in the global tourism market, the government remains committed in further developing the sector along with private entities.
"Sabah has a variety of tourism products that cater to the needs of tourists, from nature destinations to rich cultural heritage, a diversity of food, and shopping options. There is always something for everyone who visits our State.
"As reported recently, Sabah recorded its best year ever in 2016 with 3.43 million tourist arrivals with an estimated RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts. This surpassed the best record in 2013 with 3.38 million tourist arrivals," he said.
Musa said there was an increase of international tourist arrivals year last year of 15.4 per cent compared to 2015 and the statistics showed that China remains the main contributor with a 33.2 per cent market share.
He said aggressive efforts to market Sabah by working with the right partners including the private sector are showing encouraging results that was hoped for.
"We also made the right decision over a decade ago when we decided to focus on tourism as one of our engines of growth in the State Development Agenda. This was followed by the attention given by the Federal Government on tourism as outlined in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).
"Today we see spin offs from this sector, ranging from those who have become entrepreneurs by offering services including delivery of food items, to quality jobs that enhance skills of locals.
"We are also seeing a rise in interest among airlines to offer direct flights from regional destinations into Kota Kinabalu International Airport, due to strong market support," Musa said.
With the Hilton Kinabalu now in operation, the city is served with no less than eight top class hotels and resorts within a five-kilometre radius that translates into several thousand high-end rooms.
They include Gayana Resort and YTL Resort (both on Pulau Gaya), Le Meridien, Hyatt Regency, Shangrila Tanjung Aru Resort, Pacific Sutera, Magellan and the upcoming Mercure. All of them have one thing in common – they are a stone's throw from the city's famed seafront.
There are more top hotel accommodations in the pipeline as they are in various stages of completion. - Hayati Dzulkifli