KOTA KINABALU: Christmas has the potential to be used as a drawcard to attract tourists, especially Europeans, to Sabah to spend their yuletide holidays here, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman.
“Christmas is universal and synonymous with holidays, so the potential of having this event as a drawcard is tremendous.
“Europeans, especially, fleeing the cold over Christmas, could be attracted to come over to Sabah to spend their yuletide holidays if they are aware that Christmas is also widely celebrated,” he said in his speech at the Gaya Christmas celebration at Lintasan Deasoka here last night.
Musa, who was represented by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, urged organizers of the event, namely the Sabah Council of Churches and Kota Kinabalu City Hall, to discuss with the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and the Sabah Tourism Board, on how best to further promote the annual event.
“With proper planning and marketing, as well as indepth preparations made, Gaya Street and the vicinity can be transformed into a vibrant and colourful Christmas fairy land.
“This is the challenge that I pose to the organizers, and next year, I hope to see an even bigger, better and brighter Gaya Christmas Carnival,” he said.
On the other hand, Musa said the Gaya Christmas celebration communicates an important message that the harmony and wellbeing among the communities in Sabah is still intact, particularly in Kota Kinabalu.
“It is a pleasure to note that events such as the Christmas celebration helps promote social harmony, caring and goodwill among the various ethnic and religious communities in Sabah.”
Musa added that the Malaysia Open House on Christmas Day and other festivals such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Harvest Festival and Deepavali were among the approaches taken by the government to cultivate tolerance among people towards the nation’s social stability and development.
“It truly gives me hope that the concept of 1Malaysia that is actively being promoted by the Prime Minister, is alive and progressing, and that Sabah is a leader in showcasing this unity.
“As a matter of fact, we in Sabah have seen this sort of strong cultural bond and unity, cooperation and care, udnerstanding and acceptance among the various races,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sabah Council of Churches president Bishop Datuk Albert Vun said it was a great joy to celebrate Christmas with the public, civil servants and politicians as Christmas is a celebration for all the people.
Also present were Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Resource Development and Information Technology Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai and his spouse Datin Vicky Yee, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Edward Khoo Keok Hai, Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir and City Hall director-general Datuk Yeo Boon Hai.