Sabah expects 10 pct more tourists this year
Sabah tourism players should focus on eco-tourism, which is the State’s strength, instead of mass tourism, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said. “We want to make money out of tourism but not at the cost of our environment, so we cannot just do what other cities are doing,” he said. “We cannot jump on the bandwagon as we do not have the infrastructure for mass tourism, we should instead build on our strength, which is eco-tourism,” he told a press conference after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) yesterday on the sponsorship of the annual Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon. Masidi pointed out that just because mass tourism is successful in other cities, it does not mean that the result will be the same for Sabah. The benchmark for tourism is the amount of tourism receipts collected, which is why the State Government wants to attract tourists who spend money, he said, adding: “Go for tourists, not for the number, but more of those who can spend in Sabah.” He said Sabah expects to bring in an additional 300,000 tourists or a mddest 10 per cent increase this year, from 2.478 million last year due to practical considerations like the fact that the airport renovation here is still not completed. “We would like to do it conservatively because we do not want to announce high figure, then miss it. Just target a 10 percent increase. The ongoing airport renovation work is a bit of a hindrance, so we have set a modest target this year,” he said. “It is simply not good to bite off more than we can chew,” he said, adding: “That is why we have to be realistic with our target.” Masidi was happy to note that for the first five months this year there had been an increase in tourist arrivals, both domestic and foreign. Japanese tourist arrivals, which had been on the decline, was seeing an uptrend with 13.6 per cent increase from 12,714 tourists between January and May last year to 14,446 for the corresponding period this year, he noted. Tourists from China and Hong Kong increased by 23.5 per cent from 30,257 to 37,310 for the same period while Korean arrivals rose by 26.2 per cent from 29,438 to 37,142. Notwithstanding that there were no direct flights between Australian cities and Kota K i n a b a lu Australian tourist arrivals increased by 26.7 per cent from 7,977 previously to 10,106 this year “Because of our participation in the World Travel Mart in the United Kingdom last year, there was a significant increase in the number of tourists from that market, which saw an increase of 25.2 per cent from 10,711 tourists to 13,405, he added. There is a need to tap the UK market, he said, because they are high-end tourists. However, overall the tourist arrivals grew by only 0.8 per cent to reach 912,003 from 904,955 due to the declining number of Indonesian and Filipino tourists, he said.