Uzbekistan keen to expand tourism ties with Sabah
KUALA LUMPUR: Uzbekistan is keen on working with tourism players in Sabah to learn more about the travel market and make it more likely for people from both sides to visit each other.
Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Malaysia Ravshan Usmanov believed Sabah’s stunning natural environment and ocean will stimulate the interest of Uzbek citizens, who are currently considering Langkawi as their preferred destination in Malaysia to visit.
“Uzbeks rely on Langkawi, but it’s time for Sabah to promote itself. The sea and landscape in Sabah are unique. The seafood is some of the best I’ve had in the country.
“We are a land country, which is why our people love the sea. That is what we need,” he told delegates from the Sabah Tourism Board and Malaysia Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), here.
On Monday, Sabah Tourism, led by its chairman and Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, and MATTA, led by its president Datuk Tan Kok Liang, paid a courtesy call to Usmanov at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Malaysia.
The discussion was on the prospects for bilateral tourism cooperation. Also present were Sabah Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer Tay Shu Lan and Marketing Manager Zarinah Amiludin.
“I believe that our products complement one another. We sell tourism centred on history, architecture, and religion. We should consider a familiarisation tour to share our knowledge.
“I’m also of the opinion that we should hold online B2B sessions with MATTA tour companies and Sabah travel operators soon,” Usmanov added, while inviting Malaysian tourism players to the Tashkent International Tourism Fair in November.
As for Sabah’s interest in fostering closer ties with Uzbekistan, Joniston stated the state is eager to assist in bringing Uzbek citizens to the state and vice versa.
“We recently met with Uzbekistan-based tour operator Osmon Aero and were delighted to learn that they are keen on introducing charter flights connecting Tashkent and Kota Kinabalu. We’d like to collaborate more closely on this.
“Aside from tourism, Sabah’s most important economic pillars are agriculture and manufacturing. This might be a wonderful investment opportunity for Uzbekistan as well,” he said.
At present, Osmon Aero and Malaysia Airlines have inked an agreement to launch Kuala Lumpur-Tashkent-Kuala Lumpur charter flights in July.
In the meeting, Tan invited Uzbekistan tourism players to participate in the forthcoming national MATTA Fair from Sept 2-4 to tap into the direct consumer market and create more awareness for Malaysian holidaymakers to visit Uzbekistan.
“This destination has a wealth of cultural products that are tied to the historic Silk Road and Muslim travel. We will certainly encourage tour operators to participate in the Tashkent travel fair to tap into this potential market.
“We are thrilled to observe that the first charter flight from Uzbekistan to Malaysia is already fully booked, and we obviously need to reciprocate by offering an efficient marketing platform to promote Uzbekistan as an emerging tourism destination,” he said.