Published on: Thursday, January 02, 2014
The occasion kicked off the State-level Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY2014) campaign as at all 37 entry points around Malaysia.
The tourists who entered Sabah via Singapore's SilkAir were welcomed by traditional dancers and garlanded with limited edition VMY2014 traditional beads by tourism industry players led by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.
Also present were Deputy Chairman of Tourism Malaysia Senator Dato' Maznah Mazlan, Board Member of Tourism Malaysia Dato' Seri Tengku Zainal Adlim Tengku Mahmood, Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia Dato' Azizan Noordin, Sabah Tourism Board Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai and Head of VMY2014 Secretariat Nor Hayati Awang.
Apart from the welcoming ceremony, VMY2014 goodies were distributed to the tourists along with VMY2014 brochures and calendar of events showcasing all-year-round events in Malaysia and, particularly, Sabah, to entice interest and hype up the VMY2014 celebrations among locals and tourists.
Singaporean sisters Audrey and Christine Lee said they were pleased by the reception and thought it was a good way of welcoming the year's first batch of tourists.
The sisters who travelled with their parents said they have come to Sabah numerous times. "However, this is the first time we received such a welcome and we are happy about it," they said.
A Japanese living in Singapore, Hashimoto, 53, said he came here after his friends recommended Sabah as a great tourist spot.
"This is my first visit to Sabah and I intend to visit lots of interesting places, especially those related to the culture of the people such as Mari Mari village. There are many things to do here," he said, adding, he would stay for four days.
Sabah Tourism Board had lined up 77 events Statewide including the 2nd FAI Asian Paragliding Accuracy Championship (FAPAC) in March, Sabah Fest 2014 in May and the 28th Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon - Adventure Series in October.
Meanwhile, tourism industry players are urged to treat all tourists fairly and justly regardless of where the tourists come from.
"No matter what the colour of the hair, whether red, yellow, black, brown, all tourists pay for services using the same currency.
Discrimination should not happen," said Masidi.
Masidi was addressing the complaints of some domestic tourists who claimed at being discriminated against by tourism agencies and were given unfavourable treatment because of the colour of their skin.
"I would like to remind tourism industry entrepreneurs that the industry is mainly supported by domestic tourists.
If we look at the number of tourists coming into the State, more than 60 per cent are domestic tourists.
"Because of the large percentage, industry players must be fair and just in their treatment towards all their clients.
They also pay the same amount of money for the same services. So we must be fair."