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Ensuring constant high hotel occupancy
Published on: Thursday, June 20, 2024
By: David Thien
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Ensuring constant high hotel occupancy
From left: Dexter, Noredah, Phoong, Koh and Chua.
Kota Kinabalu: Newly formed Sabah Convention Bureau headed by its CEO Noredah Othman is determined to help hoteliers and hospitality industry players ensure constant high hotel occupancy rate by promoting Sabah’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry to the world.

“The Sabah Government established the Bureau to help to fill hotel rooms with business visitors after the seasonal peak holiday or leisure travellers have left as the tourism industry is an up-and-down industry, very sensitive which can be affected by pandemic health issues, political stability etc.

“In tourism, we have been taught not to put all our eggs in one basket,” she said at the Property Hunter Conference panel discussion moderated by Daily Express’ Deputy GM Dexter Yeh.

“Tourism is a huge catalyst to property investment and commercial real estate like hotels etc, including in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.”

The session also featured State Minister of Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Datuk Phoong Jin Zhe, President of Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Shareda) Datuk Sr Chua Soon Ping and Chief Research Officer of Institute for Development Studies Sabah, Richard T. Koh.

She said currently there are some 180 flights weekly flying into the state capital from 40 cities, a remarkable post-pandemic recovery of Sabah’s tourism industry.

Noredah said the low hanging fruits for Sabah’s tourism have always been the China and Korea market. 

“Simply put, it’s our geographical location. So, location, location, location as it is with the property real estate sector. Always about location, location and location.”

The growth of Sabah’s MICE industry will boost the local economy, besides the fact that events like Conferences are opportunities for the transfer of knowledge.

On the Airbnb situation in Sabah, she said currently there are no regulations on the business. She cited learning from the case of Hawaii and Japanese property buyers in the past, which did not have a happy ending when the economy declined.

“We must be able to regulate it and manage it for the benefit of everyone,” she said. 

Aside from the insight shared by Dexter on investors coming and buying blocks of property to do their Airbnb business, IDS panel speaker Richard T. Koh shared his perception of the popularity of Airbnb business among some foreign visitors keen on “responsible tourism, grassroots tourism and economy and community-based tourism”.

According to Shareda’s Chua Soon Ping, the Airbnb business or short-term rental accommodation is a global shared economy phenomenon and is not a problem.

“For Sabah to regulate or stop it is not right. You will hurt the tourism industry.

“Let the market handle it, the strongest will survive. There will be more tourists coming in. We should not have too many regulations. Let the market balance out the demand and supply,” Chua stressed.

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