Japanese tourists drop
Direct flights will boost their arrivals to Sabah, says Consul
Tourist arrivals from Japan to Sabah declined from some 35,667 in 2006 to 32,387 last year, according to outgoing Japan Consul-General to Sabah, Morita Koichi. “This could be due to the inadequate flights between Japan and Sabah, with only two flights per week from Kota Kinabalu to Tokyo,” he said. Morita expressed confidence that since Sabah is a popular destination among Japanese, the number of Japanese coming to Sabah will increase with more direct flights. As Kota Kinabalu is only five tours by direct flight from Japan, more Japanese would choose Sabah as a holiday destination in view of the State’s many tourist attractions, he said. “There are many places to visit here in Sabah such as Mount Kinabalu and Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre, and hopefully there will be more direct flights to cater to the demand from Japanese tourists,” he said during an interview at his office here in Wisma Perindustrian. According to Morita, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun had also visited Japan recently to promote Sabah as a tourism destination. He added that Malaysia is a very popular spot to stay for Japanesse retirees since the cost of living here is very low compared to Japan. “In fact, Malaysia is the number one country for Japanese retirees to stay, although there are not many of them here in Sabah,” he said, adding that Malaysia is also favoured because the climate here is not too hot compared to Japan. Morita also said that there are substantial Japanese investments in various economic sectors here in Sabah such as in timber and tourism. “We also have a leading Japanese company here namely Yanmar which is an engine manufacturer and a research laboratory has already been established in the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP),” he said. The company is still conducting research on the suitability of palm oil as a biodiesel for engines, he added. Meanwhile Morita said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had started the second phase (2007- 20 12) of the Bornean Biodiversity Ecosystems Conservation Programme in Sabah together with the State Government and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). The BBEC consists of two phases, with Phase I focused on technical support between February 2002 and January 2007, and Phase II emphasising policy support, running from October 2007 to September 2012. The main objective of the programme is to develop the capacity of the Sabah Biodiversity Centre (SBC) for efficient management and coordination in biodiversity conservation and for mainstreaming State conservation efforts to those of the nation and the world. “The Phase II aims to support the implementation of the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000 in order to achieve a balance between development and conservation by linking conservation activities and decision-making process,” he said. According to Morita, Sabah is very rich in natural resources that are not only vital to the State’s sustainable socio-economic development but also a treasure for all mankind. The scope and activities of the programme include addressing land use issues with community participation in Crocker Range Park, protecting the Kinabatangan and Segama River basins, promoting public awareness and environmental education, he noted. “Phase I was completed with success and hopefully the second phase will be as successful,” Morita added.