Contact Us Other Languages

Charting new tourism directions

KOTA KINABALU:  The State Government will set new strategic directions and provide an enabling environment for industry players to help drive tourism growth in the State. Deputy Chief Minister cum State Tourism Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew (pic) said for 2019 the government was targeting a diverse range of tourists in order to balance the increasing number of Chinese tourists to the State.“As such she said the government was also looking at increasing tourists from Asean countries.

“With resilience innovation, product quality and excellent service standards, the state Tourism industry will continue to drive the nation forward, thus making the state a preferred travel destination.“I believe we can come together to make tourism the best in the state and in the country. The State Government will stand fully behind every effort. Let us work hard to ensure fruitful outcomes,” she said, adding her Ministry and State Tourism Board have a blueprint to achieve this .“In addition to tourists coming from China which we intend to open up maybe two or three new market destinations from China, we decide to expand our route to Europe which is why we are going to ITB Berlin 2019 travel trade show in March. “It’s the gateway to Europe and we would like to have more European tourists and also open up markets in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan and Korea.  All these are important we believe in balanced tourism promotion. Hopefully we are able to get more tourist arrivals to the state than last year.“We will be visiting these countries and doing promotions to sell Sabah as a destination to all these tourism players in Europe.”On the expected number of European visitors coming to the State, Liew said she would know how to assess the number after going to Berlin.“Sabah has always been an attractive place for Europe because of what we can offer. We have elephants and orang utans, clean rivers and clean air, nice seafood and unique culture.“So Sabah is a nice place for Europeans. This will be my first time as the State Tourism Minister to go to Europe to do the promotion so I would be able to assess it then.

“With the help of Matta and Malaysian Tourism Board, I am very sure we would be able to push for the European Tourist market. We have set our target but we are striving to push it higher.”She said this to reporters at the B2B session between Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Sabah Chapter and 40 Asean Tour Operators at a hotel in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday. Meanwhile Matta President Datuk KL Tan when asked about his comment that only six percent of tourists from Asean countries that come to Sabah with the remainder more towards Kuala Lumpur in the Peninsular, he said traditionally the Sabah market was from China, South Korea and domestic tourism. So Asean market is something that the State can tap into. “For tourists from Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia going to  Kuala Lumpur is popular but today we want a breakthrough for Sabah because of our attractions of diving, trekking and mountain climbing, our food, beaches and clean air so we should be able to attract them. “With air connectivity from Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei  we should be able to tap a bigger share of the market  together with the assistance of the State Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia. “These Asean countries generally tend to have a much bigger population than Malaysia. So we just need a small percentage of them.”He said Matta Sabah Chapter was fully hosting the 40 tour agents delegates from the Asean countries. “This includes their air transport, accommodation and ground handling in order that they come to Sabah as they have been selling very well for Malaysia generally.”

Meanwhile on the B2B event itself, Liew  said it was the first time an Asean tourism conference was  held in the state.“All this while it was held in Kuala Lumpur, but this year was the first time it was held in the state so that we can promote Sabah to them,” Liew said adding that she was sure the delegates would be able to understand what the state had to offer. “We hope today’s B2B session  will be able to produce results. We have spent some money on this as an investment but we believe that there will be a good result from it.” Sabah recorded 1.36 million international arrivals and 2.52 million domestic arrivals which increased by 10.2 percent and 2.8 percent respectively last year.  – Neil Chan

Source: Daily Express | Feb 24, 2019