Selamat Datang and Greetings from Sabah.
It is April and soon will be Easter and the Golden Weeks holiday season. We have sunshine, clear sky with some rain-showers in the late afternoons to cool the evenings.
This month we welcome guests from Australia, New Zealand and the UK for Anzac Day in Sandakan and travelling onward to Ranau, Kundasang, Kota Kinabalu and Labuan. On the first weekend of May, is the Sabah Fest Cultural Extravaganza in Kota Kinabalu followed by the month-long Harvest Festival (Pesta Kaamatan) celebrations of the Kadazan-Dusun Murut communities in villages, districts and towns of Sabah. Also in May is the Borneo International Marathon with thousands of participants. Come join the fun and celebrations!
Last year, more than 3.383 million visitors came to Sabah, of which about 1.1million are international visitors and more than 2.3 million are domestic tourists. We are confident 2014 will also be a fruitful year.
Global corporate brands from Europe and the Asia Pacific region including telecommunications, medical meetings and conferences, banks and financial institutions, and many more have their meetings and corporate incentive events in Kota Kinabalu. For the 16th year, the prestigious PADI highest Instructor training course of CDTC was conducted in Kota Kinabalu, recently. Many of these Groups also travelled to Sandakan and the east coast to visit the Turtle Islands, the world renowned Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Sanctuary and river-safaris to Sukau for the must-see Bornean wildlife habitats. Media groups such as National Geographic and Discovery Channel continue to film Sabah, including the highly respected British naturalist Sir David Attenborough who filmed in Danum Valley recently.
In 2013, the Government established the ESSZONE under the ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command) along the entire east coast of Sabah from Kudat in the far north to Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Tawau in the southeast to overcome infiltrations, illegal arrivals and smuggling. This is similar to the Homeland Security of the USA, along its southern border with Mexico.
On 2 April 2014, two females including a tourist from China and the other a resort staff were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort, Semporna, located about 512km away (7½ hours by road) from Kota Kinabalu. ESSCOM Director General has confirmed that the victims are safe and that the group responsible has contacted the family in China. The Police have identified the criminals and will continue investigations. The priority is to secure the safe release of the victims. All resorts operators in the East Coast are working closely with the authorities to reinforce and enhance security measures, for the safety of visitors and guests. The Federal Government announced in Parliament to increase and deploy more maritime assets to Semporna and the East coast Sabah.
The festive annual Regatta Lepa Semporna will be on 25 to 27 April. All our attractions including the dive islands-resorts in the east coast, nature and wildlife sanctuaries in Sandakan and throughout the West Coast are open all year-round. Sabah is peaceful and the people are friendly. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital city is bustling and busy with tourists, cruise ships and conference delegates. It is business as usual. See you in Sabah!
Terima Kasih. Thank you.