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Sabah to woo more tourists from Asean countries

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is banking on arrivals from Asean countries to boost its tourism industry.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said to date, the state only has six per cent of tourist arrivals from Southeast Asian nations, compared to 70 per cent heading to Kuala Lumpur and other parts of peninsula Malaysia.

“Sabah has loads of attractions, from food, dive sites, air, wildlife and culture, which it markets to travellers from China, South Korea and within Malaysia.

“The state wants a breakthrough from Asean countries which have much bigger population than Sabah.

“We should be able to do better for the state with direct flights connectivity and assistance from Sabah Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia,” he said after launching the inaugural B2B session between Matta Sabah chapter members and Asean tour operators here.

Present were Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew and Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general (promotion) Datuk Mohmed Razip Hasan.

Tan added that despite similarities in terms of tourism products within Asean countries, Sabah has its own niches that could cater to the needs of different tourists.

Earlier in his speech, he said this year, Matta would be representing Malaysia at the International Tourism Bourse Berlin in Germany next month by showcasing 28 travel and tour companies and hoteliers.

“Our participation at ITB Berlin will allow us to showcase Malaysia’s products especially Sabah Tourism to more than 10,000 tourism agencies from over 180 countries.

“Matta will also be introducing attractive and fresh itineraries for tour packages to encourage more tourists from Germany and Europe to visit Malaysia,” he said, adding that Western countries have traditionally been contributing to tourism industry thus it is worthy to continue tapping the said market.

Meanwhile, Liew, who is also deputy chief minister said the state government would set up a new strategic direction and provide an enabling environment for industry players to help drive tourism growth.

“We are targeting a diverse range of tourists as we want to balance the number, not only increasing the number of Chinese tourists, but also tourists from Asean and European countries.

“Sabah had recorded 1.36 million international arrivals and 2.52 million domestic arrivals. We are on the right track to achieve our target of 4 million tourist arrivals in 2019.” she added.

Source: New Straits Times | Feb 23, 2019