Hope on return of Chinese tourists
Published on: Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: Chinese tourists have been asking about Sabah even as Malaysia clamours to win them over after arrivals took a hit following the disappearance of MH370 last year.And this gives the government, in particular Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, added confidence they will soon be making a beeline to the State.

Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad Managing Director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said during their visit to China-based airlines recently, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai was optimistic about the return of Chinese tourists to Sabah.

"We are very optimistic that this year we will be moving forward with new arrivals of tourists from China to Malaysia and one of the questions they constantly asked was about Sabah.

"Liow also mentioned this two days ago and it is a good sign but somehow, we just need to give them back the confidence especially after the tragedy that had occurred last year," he said.

"Let's all look forward…let the past be a lesson to us so that we can do better in years to come and as what Badlisham said earlier, the Chinese kept asking about Sabah," chipped in Masidi.

"We should be asking ourselves what are the things that we need to do in order to make sure the return of Chinese tourists in bigger numbers," he said.

Towards this end, Masidi revealed that Liow would soon make an announcement regarding chartered flights from Wuhan.

Earlier, MAHB Chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah also announced that Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) had experienced a steady growth of 7.05 per cent per year.

"However, for the first quarter of 2015 in comparison to the same quarter last year, there was a marginal decrease of 0.12 per cent.

"We at Malaysia Airports, however, are optimistic that this slight downward trend is temporary as we believe the hard work of the Tourism Ministry in promoting this year as the Year of Festivals will bear fruit in getting more tourists to Sabah and therefore Malaysia," he said.

The State government, meanwhile, is pleased MAHB had responded to its suggestion in taking the lead to create changes at KKIA.

Masidi said, for instance, the launching of the Cheerful Campaign programme at KKIA on Wednesday would make a good impression on newly arrived tourists.

"We feel we should take the opportunity with tourists coming to Sabah especially Kota Kinabalu by giving them some ideas of what Sabah is all about," he said, adding that the programme was part of their effort to make KKIA the liveliest airport, apart from adding to its value.

"It is good that to look beyond the normal functions of an airport and we are happy that MAHB offered us the full cooperation and we had made related arrangements with related agencies to put up exhibitions," he explained.

He also said they will be cooperating with Sabah Museum, Sabah Art Gallery and State Cultural Board to showcase artefacts and paintings as well as traditional performances at the airport.

Abdul Aziz, meanwhile, said the programme was appropriate in order to make sure tourists had wonderful experiences throughout their stay in Sabah.


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