KOTA KINABALU: The lucrative tourism industry continues to be one of Sabah’s major income earners as Sabah increased its target arrivals by 1.1 per cent totaling 2.875 million visitors compared to 2011.
This was an estimated RM5.178 billion revenue earned, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment reported yesterday.
“The industry has proven to be resilient, rising from turbulent times and gaining strength from adversity from the beginning of 2012 with challenges faced especially on flight uncertainty,” said its minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.
International arrivals recorded an overall positive growth of 11.3 per cent with double digit growth from China and Hong Kong (44.3%) and South Korea (26.1%).
European arrivals especially from the United Kingdom and Ireland (growth of 39.9%) were also making a comeback to Sabah, indicating confidence in long-haul travelling and strong focus on nature-based tourism, Sabah’s stronghold in the industry.
Domestic tourism remained as the main contributor making 67% of the total arrivals or 1.933 million to Sabah in 2012.
However, this was a decrease of 3.2% compared to 2011 mainly due to a reduction in total domestic seat capacity from both Sarawak and the peninsula.
“For the first time in fourteen years domestic arrivals were affected due to less competitive airfares offered to the domestic outbound market as well as opening of new routes by low cost carriers to other regional destination. This year we continue to keep our partners, the airlines, close to support our destination as 96% of our arrivals come by air,” said Masidi.
“Sabah’s tourism industry will have a roaring start in 2013. We will benefit from Malaysia Airlines’ reinstatement of direct international routes to Sabah and MASWings’ focus on BIMP EAGA region.
“AirAsia’s commitment in increasing domestic flight frequencies and very soon the introduction of a new airline, MALINDO, can strengthen our industry and create a more competitive landscape that will benefit the domestic market.
“Looking ahead, we are targeting to increase arrivals from 3% to 4.3% or from 2.96 million to 3 million arrivals,” Masidi reiterated.