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Sabah and Sarawak Tourism News March 2016

Sabah and Sarawak Tourism News 2016

Here is a round up of Sabah and Sarawak tourism news for March 2016 for those wanting to know more about what is happening in these two Malaysian states in Borneo.

Poor air links, slowdown hit tourism in Sarawak

Foreign arrivals to Sarawak fell short of expectations last year, recording a 7% drop from 2014, no thanks to poor air connectivity.  State Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg had hoped for 5 million arrivals in 2015. However, only 4.51 million visitations were recorded. In 2014, there were 4.85 million foreign arrivals. “Our target for this year remains 5 million,” Johari told reporters after the yearly State Tourism Steering Committee meeting here yesterday. The prolonged haze, repercussions from the twin Malaysia Airlines disasters, and global economic slowdown were also blamed for the drop.

A much touted attempt by the Sarawak and Sabah governments to become majority shareholders in MASwings also failed to materialise. Johari said poor air links had continued to “handicap” Sarawak’s tourism growth. Looking ahead, the state would concentrate on attracting tourists via China and Singapore hubs.

On April 26, Hong Kong Airlines would fly its first flight between Kuching and Hong Kong. “As a result of that route, there is a possibility of other airlines coming. In fact, Sarawak Tourism Board is negotiating with other Chinese airlines to fly direct from China to Kuching. I can’t reveal more yet. The other important hub will be Singapore,” Johari said. “Promotional works in Hong Kong and Singapore would be ‘aggressive’”, he added.

Read More: http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/community/2016/03/24/poor-air-links-slowdown-hit-tourism-haze-and-disasters-also-blamed-for-7-drop-in-arrivals-last-year/

Sarawak Eyes 5 Million Tourist Arrivals This Year, Via Singapore, Hong Kong

KUCHING, March 23 (Bernama) — With a view to luring five million tourists to Sarawak this year, the state government will liaise with Singapore and Hong Kong to record the statistics from the two iconic Asian tourist hubs.

State tourism minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg noted that last year, 60 per cent of the 25.7 million tourists to Malaysia came through Singapore, while Hong Kong was the gateway for tourists from mainland China. He said the state government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore Cooperation Enterprise to tap the island’s expertise in developing new tourism destinations and products.  He was speaking to the media after chairing the Sarawak Tourism Steering Committee annual meeting here Wednesday.

Read More: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1227815

Sabah No 2 choice of Beijing tourists

Kota Kinabalu: Despite several hiccups, China tourists are still flocking to Sabah, making it their second most preferred destination in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur, according to Ctrip.com, China’s leading online travelling agency. Its Malaysia Business Unit Director Stephane Thong said 37 per cent of its customers opted to come to Sabah since the company was established in Malaysia in 2014.

“Sabah offers a complete tourism experience which makes it more popular among China tourists compared to other Malaysian cities such as Kuala Lumpur or Penang. Other than the local cuisine, these tourists are attracted to the beautiful islands and beaches here because China has very few of it,” she said.

Thong also said Malaysia’s efforts to promote Sabah as a tourist destination contributed to the success. “The government has taken many initiatives to promote Sabah to China tourists such as increasing the number of direct flights to Sabah,” she said, adding that the depreciation of the Ringgit has resulted in a cheaper travelling package.

Read More: http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/local.cfm

Sarawak To Have Direct Hong Kong-Sibu Flights

SIBU, March 13 (Bernama) — The Sarawak Tourism Ministry will establish direct flights from Hong Kong to Sibu to increase tourist arrivals to the state’s central region soon.  Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said this after the state government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hong Kong Airlines earlier this year. He said the twice-a-week, Hong Kong-Kuching-Hong Kong direct flights were expected to begin next month.

“This is in line with Sarawak’s open sky policy inviting interested airlines to have direct flights to the state,” he said in a speech read by state housing and tourism minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg at the launch of Visit Sibu Year 2017 at Dataran Sibu here last night.

Adenan said Sibu was the main entrance to the central region of Sarawak, boasting of various tourist attractions comprising Kapit, Sarikei and Mukah which had tourism potential not fully explored and developed. “Sarawak’s central region is rich in culture, nature, adventure, heritage and history,” he added.

The chief minister also announced an allocation of RM200,000 from the state government to the committee in charge of ‘Visit Sibu Year 2017’. The tourism sector is a major contributor to the state economy, with a turnover of about RM9 billion with 4.5 million tourist arrivals last year. The amount is equivalent to 13 per cent of Sarawak’s total gross domestic product (GDP) last year, said Adenan, adding that the tourism sector would also provide employment opportunities to the people of Sarawak.

Read More: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/state_news/news.php?id=1224661cat=sre

Sarawak eying Asean, East Asia tourism markets

KUCHING: The state Tourism Ministry is working to position Sarawak in the Asean and East Asia markets as its priority areas for 2016, said Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg. “While we still promote the state to the European market, we would also want to concentrate more on our neighbours particularly Asean and East Asia.

“We are penetrating into important hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong. As you know, we will have direct flight to and from Hong Kong starting next month. Hong Kong is the gateway to southern China, so these are cities where we want to concentrate in improving connectivity. We also hope to tap into the Mongolian market.  “We also expect other airlines to join the bandwagon. In fact we are negotiating with a few,” he said at the official opening ceremony of the 8th MATTA Fair 2016 at Boulevard Shopping Mall yesterday.

According to Abang Johari, a Sarawak Week would be held in Singapore in May. “As part of the campaign, five Singapore buses will be wrapped with Sarawak logo and themes and they will go around Singapore for a month. It will be an aggressive campaign which we are working with Singapore Tourism Board and Silk Air,” he said.

Read More: http://www.theborneopost.com/2016/03/12/sarawak-eying-asean-east-asia-tourism-markets/

China tourists flock to Sabah again

KOTA KINABALU – The lure of the sea and convenient direct flights are among the factors pulling Chinese tourists to Sabah despite security concerns, according to Sabah Tourism Federation president Datuk Seri Winston Liaw. These travellers, he said, had been assured by the presence of security personnel in the east coast area.

“The issue of personal safety is not stopping them from coming as many of them say that crimes occur everywhere,” he said, crediting the continuous arrival of Chinese tourists to efforts by the Sabah Tourism Board (STB).

The feedback from Chinese tourists indicated that Sabah’s natural resources were a major attraction, he added. “They tell us that they love our beautiful beaches, islands, nature and cheap seafood,” he said, adding that it also helped that many Sabahans could speak various Chinese dialects. Seafood, especially in the east coast, is not only fresh but cheaper compared to peninsular Malaysia or even China, he added.

Read More: http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/03/16/china-tourists-flock-to-sabah-again-travellers-feel-its-safe-to-visit-east-coast-thanks-to-beefed-up/

Sabah exploring new areas as tourist attractions

KOTA BELUD: The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is exploring new areas with the potential to be developed into exciting tourist destinations. Its permanent secretary, Datuk Ginun Yangus said this was part of efforts to draw the international community to the state.

“The places rich in natural beauty and with the potential for eco-tourism development include Kadamaian in Kota Belud, Keningau, Kuala Penyu, Beaufort and Sungai Kinabatangan in Sandakan, ” he said at the launch of the Kadamaian Nature Challenge 2016 by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak here today.

Read More: http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1733160

Call For More Backpackers Clubs In Sabah To Promote Tourism

TUARAN, March 19 (Bernama) — Backpackers Clubs could assist in promoting Sabah as the best tourism destination in Malaysia. This is according to Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai who said more of such clubs should be formed in the state. He said club members could empower the local tourism sector through various means including social media.

The associations could organise sojourns to tourism spots where members may also share their experiences for instance, on Facebook, he told reporters after launching ‘2D1N Earth Hour and Kiulu Adventure Voluntourism’, Saturday. The programme held in Kiulu near here and organised with the cooperation of Sabah Backpacker Operators Association (SBA) and Almacrest College was participated by about 30 students from the Almacrest Student Backpackers Club.

Read More: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/state_news/news.php?id=1226669cat=sbe

Tigerair Taiwan touches down in Kota Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is confident of surpassing its aim of 60,000 tourist arrivals from Taiwan by year end.  State Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said it was not impossible to achieve the target with the addition of new direct flight between two destinations. “Last year, the state recorded 41,000 arrivals which was 31 per cent increase than the previous year.”

“With the addition of the new budget Tigerair Taiwan airline, it is not impossible for us to achieve the target by year end,” he said in a reception welcoming the budget airline’s inaugural flight from Taipei to the Kota Kinabalu International airport, here, this morning.

The airline’s chief executive officer Kwan Yue said the carrier chose Sabah as the state was a resort destination with modern facility and possessed a strong cultural element as well as providing good hospitality. “We are able to generate high interests among people to come to Sabah within short time of marketing the destination. “The airline foresees great potential (in this partnership) and looking forward to increase frequency and offer affordable price tickets to the people,” he said.

Read More: http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/03/133496/tigerair-taiwan-touches-down-kota-kinabalu

The above is a compilation of Sabah and Sarawak Tourism News for March 2016 taken from various mainstream new sources in Malaysia. If you have any comments, please leave them below.