We are entering well into 2019 and the Lunar New Year of the Boar in Sabah and are pleased to announce the overall total arrivals report for 2018. Last year, Sabah exceeded the target of 3.85 million visitors and registered a +5.3% increase (3,879,413) in visitor arrivals with an estimated receipt of RM8.34 billion, the highest receipts ever in history.
Gross international visitors recorded a double-digit increase of +10.2% or 1,361,567, while 2,517,846 domestic visitors (+2.8% more) came to Sabah between January to December last year. The top market source is Northern Asia, surpassing the half-million mark or 593,393, up +37.7% from 2017. South Korean visitors reached 337,100, up +8.5%, while Singapore increased by +9.1%.
Last year a record 343 non-scheduled flights (charter and extra flights) brought over 41,000 passengers from China, South Korea and Japan. A record of 10 new international flights was established by various airlines. Over in the East Coast, Tawau established a new connection to Kuching while Sandakan welcomed four cruise ships, one extra from the previous year.
Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel, Ibis Styles and Borneo Eagle officially began operations last year. DoubleTree by Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Jen Hotel, and Holiday Inn Express will contribute to the industry soon.
As of February this year, Sabah is connected to 26 international destinations and servicing 12 carriers. We will be highlighting Sabah as ‘Malaysia’s Favourite Destination’ this year at the MATTA Fair.
There will be over 200 events and festivals throughout the year. We wish all of our visitors a vibrant, healthy and prosperous year ahead.
East Coast Security Updates
The Malaysian Government has designated the entire eastern portion of Sabah (extending from the town of Kudat in northern Sabah to Tawau district near the border of Indonesia) as the Eastern Sabah Security Zone and established the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) to coordinate security forces’ activity. Security forces are stationed on the islands with resorts. Curfew hours between 7 pm to 5 am up to three nautical miles offshore is put in place by ESSCOM. Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia have formed a trilateral committee on this.