Tourism to surpass current share of Sabah’s GDP


KUALA LUMPUR: Sabah’s tourism sector would surpass its current 10 per cent share of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within the next five years, said Industrial Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan.

He said tourism, agriculture and manufacturing are the main engines of the State’s growth under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) which is on track to bring Sabah further progress by 2025.

“As a result of cordial state-federal relations, we can expect to see more improvements and fresh development to narrow the development gap between Sabah and peninsular Malaysia,” said Tan at the opening of Sabah investment, products and tourism exhibition at the Mid Valley here yesterday.

Sabah, said Tan, is an attractive tourism destination for its eco-related products and services found in forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and state parks.

He said tourism is also an area identified under the NKEA and urged local tourism players and investors to come up with low carbon footprint products and services that could lure more travellers to the state, thus adding value to the forests.

“I believe there are more than enough research reports on these issues that investors can refer to, and also sufficient institutions of higher education and government related agencies that can assist in getting such projects off the ground.”

In the manufacturing sector, Tan said the State Government is encouraging the downstream processing of timber into higher value products.

Investment opportunities in the downstream processing of forestry-based industries include the manufacturing of panels, door and window components, floorings, reconstituted products, furniture and even wooden toys and musical instruments.

Investment opportunities from non-timber forest products include cultivating, collecting and processing herbal and medicinal plants as well as extraction of natural oils and fats from aromatic plants.

Sabah is continuing to grow and is getting the support it needs from the Federal Government to boost development, including for a wide range of infrastructure.

High value-added activities through industrial development will be one of the most important activities to achieve the NEM.

“The SDC is on track and is in its second phase (2011-2015). Its main theme is to accelerate economic growth by attracting greater private investment and providing specialised infrastructure with first-class human capital.

“In this timeline, we anticipate tourism to surpass the 10 per cent share of the GDP, the creation of a critical mass of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) serving downstream manufacturing companies, and to have agri-businesses that participate in high-value agriculture.

“The key measure for this phase is for the GDP to double by 2015 or for it to reach RM32 billion, from 2006,” said Tan, adding that the development of palm oil industrial clusters in Lahad Datu and Sandakan are also well-supported and on track to generate more value and revenue for Sabah.

He said the State Government has also incorporated the Sipitang Oil and Gas Development Corporation to spearhead the development of the Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park.

Sipitang meets the ideal attributes and logistics required for the development of an industrial park suitable for high value-added industries related to gas and other heavy industries and services.

The objective is to create an integrated and systematic industrial area designated for gas-related industries and other heavy industries through industrial clustering.

“This is to capture the opportunities offered by the presence of oil and gas supplies in the vicinity and to transform these opportunities into value-added industrial activities and in turn, create jobs in line with the State and Federal Key Results Area.

“This is also in line with the New Economic Model in transforming Malaysia into a high income economy by means of high value-added activities through industrial development,” Tan added.