KOTA KINABALU: The State Government is confident of registering an increase in tourist arrivals by year end despite lingering impact of the recent double airline tragedy and the series of kidnappings that took place in the east coast of the state earlier this year.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said that although the incidents were expected to cast a shadow on the tourism industry, a healthy growth was still likely with a bulk of international tourist arrivals coming from Singapore.
“As shown in the past, negative events are unlikely to impact the tourism sector significantly and are viewed as temporary setbacks,” he said when officiating at the Asian Tourism International (ATI) College 17th Convocation in Tanjung Aru yesterday.
He noted that Sabah registered RM6.35 billion in tourism receipts last year with 3.38 million tourists, which represented a 17.6 per cent increase compared to the tourist arrivals in the previous year.
This was despite a security situation in the early part of the year and significant negative press and travel advisories in foreign markets.
Musa said the latest data from Tourism Malaysia showed the number of international tourist arrivals in Malaysia between January and April had increased by 10 per cent to 9.27 million, compared to 8.43 million over the corresponding period in 2013.
“However, this does not mean that we must not work hard to continue drawing tourists to Malaysia and Sabah. Negative events aside, the State Government is committed to make Sabah a viable and attractive destination for holidays and for meetings and conventions,” he said.
Among the steps being taken to lure visitors to Sabah included the ongoing construction of world-class international meeting and convention centre in Kota Kinabalu.
The state tourism authorities were also continuously marketing Sabah as a nature, culture and adventure destination, capitalizing on the state’s diverse and unique land and seascapes.
Meanwhile, Musa said the State Government also focused on ensuring that there were sufficient institutes of higher education that catered to the needs of the different sectors of the economy.
“Developing capable human resources to fill jobs is a responsibility that we take seriously, and in order to achieve this, we work closely with the institutions of higher education,” he said.