3.105 million tourists expected next year

MORE tourists are expected to visit Sabah next year, with the establishment of additional new flights and routes.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun in expressing his confidence, said that they had targeted at least 3.105 million tourists would pick Sabah as their holiday destination. Of the figure, 2,175,000 are domestic visitors, while 930,000 are from abroad.

“We believe this will generate revenue amounting to some RM5.510 billion to the state,” he said in his winding up speech during the State Legislative Assembly sitting, yesterday, adding that the additional routes and flights were timely, especially with the launch of the Visit Malaysia Year for 2013 and 2014.

He said the new routes were Davao-Kota Kinabalu, which would be operated by AirAsia effective November 1, and also Cebu-Kota Kinabalu the following month.

Masidi said Silk Air had also voiced its intention to increase its Singapore-Kota Kinabalu flight frequency from seven to 10 flights weekly beginning October 31, while MASwings would be launching its thrice weekly Puerto Princessa-Kota Kinabalu flight soon.

“Malaysia Airlines System (MAS) will be launching its once weekly Perth-Kota Kinabalu flight on December 9, twice weekly Osaka-Kota Kinabalu on December 20, and two additional flights for its Hong Kong-Kota Kinabalu route, making it nine flights weekly beginning December 1,” said Masidi.

According to Masidi, the state had recorded positive growth in the number of tourist arrivals this year, where in the first eight months, they recorded 1,873,507 visitors, contributing a revenue of RM3.39 billion.

“The number showed a 1.1 per cent increase compared to similar period last year with a total of 1,852,899 arrivals,” he said.

Meanwhile, Masidi told the House that although he had been given the responsibility to handle matters concerning education in Sabah, he explained that he had no executive power to make any decision on education-related issues.

“While I am grateful that the Yang Berhormats (YBs) have shown their concerns over issues related to education in the state, I have no executive power to make any decision on the matter. All I can do is to bring the matter to the Education Ministry for their consideration,” he said.

At this juncture, many assistant ministers and Barisan Nasional backbenchers stood up to give suggestions such as to appoint a special minister to handle matters related to education in the state, as well as to give the State Education Department director the power to make decisions.

Masidi, however, disclosed that to date, the Education Ministry was currently reviewing the teachers’ allowance rates to allow them to prepare allowance facility and increment for all teachers, regardless of their location.

Several assistant ministers had also voiced out the teachers’ grouses to allow them to receive the transfer allowance, which is enjoyed by teachers posted in West Malaysia.

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