SANDAKAN: Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Liew Vui Keong said Sandakan should have a distinctive airport of international standing in order to attract more foreign tourists.
Describing Sandakan as a destination offering diversity in eco-tourism, he said based on the number of aircraft movements and the increasing number of passengers from year to year, it was appropriate for the airport to be upgraded and the flight frequencies increased in order to make it competitive with other airports in the country.
“Upgrading the airport is in line with the government’s aspiration to make Malaysia a premier tourist destination in Southeast Asia.
“The Ministry of Tourism targets the revenue earned from tourism be about RM161 billion with an influx of 36 million tourists by 2020,” he said.
Liew, who is also Sandakan member of paliament, added by upgrading it into an international airport, the district would be able to attract investors.
He said that when declaring open the 12th Sandakan Festival held at the lobby of the Sandakan airport yesterday.
The two-day festival which started yesterday, is an affirmation of welcome for tourists to visit Sandakan which is known for its natural environment and tropical rainforest.
Various events and activities have been planned to attract the people to come and visit the Sandakan airport.
“We must treat this airport not only as a point of arrival and departure but also to visit the outlets which offer products to suit the tourists’ tastes,” Liew added.
He stressed that in order to turn Sandakan into a district that can generate its own economy, particularly for the local communities, the high-end tourist markets should be tapped and given attention to, especially in Europe, the Middle East, China, Korea and Japan.
He called on the operators and agencies based at the airport to continue providing courteous and quality service to protect the image of the country and that of the district.
Also present were Sandakan Municipal Council president Datuk Ir James Wong and Malaysia Airport Berhad Sandakan manager Awang Mali Awang Anak.