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Sabah expects 2.2m tourists this year
Published on: Sunday, May 28, 2023
By: Ricardo Unto
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Sabah expects 2.2m tourists this year
“As of February this year, Sabah had recorded 366,988 tourist arrivals compared to 200,027 during the same period in 2022, an increase of 83.5 per cent,” Liew said in the winding-up speech for her Ministry at the State Legislative Assembly sitting.
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah is confident of receiving up to 2.2 million domestic and international tourists this year with an estimated tourism receipt of RM4 billion.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said this is driven by the restoration of domestic and international flights to the State.

“As of February this year, Sabah had recorded 366,988 tourist arrivals compared to 200,027 during the same period in 2022, an increase of 83.5 per cent,” she said in the winding-up speech for her Ministry at the State Legislative Assembly sitting.

She said there were as many as 396 domestic flights in a week from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Penang, Kota Bharu and Sarawak.

“For international flights, there were 93 in a week from Singapore, Taipei, South Korea, the Philippines and some regions in China.”

The State, she added, would receive direct flight services from several cities in China starting next month. These include AirAsia flights from Beijing as many as three times a week starting July 2, AirAsia flights from Macau as many as four times a week from July 16 and flights from Guangzhou beginning June 1, three times a week, by China Southern Airlines.

“This positive increase in the air transport network can boost the momentum of the State’s tourism industry. “The Ministry is committed to discussing and expanding cooperation with airlines in potential countries this year, such as Australia and Middle East.”

To empower the State’s tourism industry and prepare for the upcoming Visit Malaysia Year, various initiatives have and will be planned, especially in developing new tourism products and facilities, especially in tourist hotspots.

“This is also to add value and increase tourist capacity and make the areas preferred destinations that must be visited in the State,” she said.

Among the development planning initiatives are improvement of tourism facilities on Manukan Island and at Poring Hot Springs, Ranau and the upgrading of the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to Night Safari.

The Ministry, she said, is also identifying potentially interested investors and detailed discussions are ongoing between the Ministry and the investors.

“Sustainable management of nature and preserved biodiversity is the Ministry’s main pillar in maintaining nature’s treasures for future generations.

“This wealth of natural resources is the main asset of the State’s tourism product.”

As such, the Ministry through the Sabah Parks, will implement several measures, such as improving the Timpohon Gate in Taman Kinabalu, Ranau, upgrading Manukan Island jetty at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, improvement of picnic facilities at Senagang Waterfall in Crocker Range Park, Keningau and construction of a marine life gallery building in Taman Tun Mustapha, Kudat.

This year, Sabah Parks will also implement a flagship project under the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) initiative with the construction of a High Altitude Training Centre on Mount Kinabalu.

“The construction of this special training centre will provide world-class mountain climbing training facilities to prepare elite climbers from all over the world who wish to climb Mount Everest,” she said.

As for wildlife management, which is the main attraction of tourism for the European market, enforcement, control and wildlife studies are among the programmes that will be emphasised this year.

“Upgrading the elephant exhibit at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is the main focus of the Ministry in improving the management and facilities of pygmy elephants to ensure the welfare and safety of the staff and elephants are protected.

“On sustainable environmental management, preserving and conserving natural treasures will remain a priority.”

At the same time, she said, balancing the community’s economic development needs and applying the community’s shared responsibility in ensuring the development of the State will not jeorpadise biological diversity, the environment and the uniqueness of its unique community culture.

As such, various programmes and activities, whether at the academic or professional level, have been implemented and will continue to be implemented to ensure development in Sabah goes hand in hand with planned and integrated environmental management.

“Harmonious ethnic relations are the key to the peace and prosperity of a government, especially in a state with various ethnicities and religions.

“To make Sabah a peaceful and unique state and drive the development of culture-based tourism, the Ministry will continue and increase cultural programmes that can be an experience for tourists visiting the State.

“In addition, the Ministry will plan to develop the Cultural Village in Kinarut so that the importance of the valuable heritage treasures can be protected and even potentially increase income from its economic spill-over,” she said.

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