Sabah is eyeing Asia for main tourism income
Published on: Monday, November 21, 2011
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Kota Kinabalu: Sabah is eyeing Asia for its main tourism income given the growing numbers of tourist arrivals from economic powerhouses like China, Japan and Korea as it aims to achieve RM8 billion in tourism receipts by 2015. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said despite the operation curfew imposed on Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), China and Hong Kong posted the highest increase in tourists (38.5 per cent) up to September this year.

"Sabah has lost many chartered flights from China, Korea and Russia due to the KKIA operation curfew," he said during the seventh edition of the Sabah Tourism Awards at Magellan Sutera Harbour, here, Saturday night.

The curfew from 12.30am to 6am is due to the ongoing construction and upgrading works at the KKIA.

However, Masidi was upbeat that once the highly anticipated upgraded runway is completed in April 2012 and adopts a 24-hour daily air connectivity, it will further increase tourist arrivals to the State.

He said his ministry's target of achieving 2.63 million arrivals was on track, adding the State's tourism sector registered a first-time double-digit growth of 15 per cent for the first nine months this year.

He also thanked the Royal Brunei Airlines for providing direct flights from Perth, which contributed to a 16 per cent increase in the number of Australian visitors.

Attributing the boom experienced by the local tourism industry to greater air accessibility and the region's economic and political stability, Masidi said:

"China remains a major driving force in the growth of international tourism. This is the market that could sustain our industry.

"We need to cater to the demand of this important market sector.

Even the USA and Europe are banking on China," he added.

Masidi also urged local players to tap into other Asian countries like Japan, which posted a 22 per cent increase and Korea, 11 per cent.

"Korea is picking up and may surpass Japan anytime soon," he noted.

The Sabah Tourism Awards aimed to pay tribute to organisations, individuals and industry players who have helped in making Sabah a popular tourist destination.

Among the recipients of the awards was Daily Express' Special Writer, Kan Yaw Chong, who bagged the Sabah Tourism Award for the Best Published Article in Sabah with his article titled "Historic British Salute" on Sept 4, 2011.

Other winners include David Bowden's Sepilok's Orang Utan for Best Tourism Article Published in Malaysia, Sabah's Award Winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge for Best Tourism Article Published Overseas.

Shangri-La's Peppino for Best Hotel Restaurant, Brass Monkey CafŽ & Bar for Best Stand Alone Restaurant, Restaurant Kak Nong for Best Kopitiam, The BED for the Best Night Spot, John Bakar for Best Specialised Tourist Guide and Royal Brunei for Best Foreign Airline.

The Minister's awards went to Datuk Balwant Singh for his work in sports development, TVB Hong Kong for their movies, dramas and documentaries filmed in Sabah and Porters of Mount Kinabalu for their service as dedicated ambassadors of Malaysia's highest mountain and the country's first World Heritage Site.


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