KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah tourism industry will be further boosted with the launch of the Sabah – Best of Borneo Holiday Packages, yesterday.
A combination of 35 holiday packages under 14 themes, it is the first of its kind in Malaysia, which was created by 17 tour operators to cater to every interest and all age groups.
Ranging from day-trips to four-days/three-nights tour, all packages are inclusive of accommodation, meals and guided tour.
Tourism Malaysia deputy chairperson Senator Datuk Maznah Mazlan, when launching the tour packages, believed that it would help ensure the country’s tourism would continue to prosper.
“The tourism industry not only contributes to the national Growth Domestic Product (GDP) but also inculcates the spirit of patriotism, as well as strengthens the racial unity among the public,” she said, adding that Malaysia was the 10th most visited country in the world in 2012.
She added that it was important to observe the caring capacity as for some destinations, it could only take a certain number of people due to its facility or fragility of the environment.
Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the issue was also something that was being looked into seriously by the state government and discussion had been done on the matter.
“The state government is taking the necessary action so that there is a balance to it… we are very concerned on this,” he said.
Meanwhile, Maznah said under the Economic Transformation Plan, they were asked to think outside the box by applying the Blue Ocean Strategy.
“So that means we have to be creative when coming up with new tour packages,” she said.
For over a decade, Sabah has been enjoying a double-digit growth annually and that the state’s total tourist arrivals have increased five-folds from about 500,000 in 2000 to over 2.5 million in 2010.
Last year, tourist arrivals to Sabah reached 2.87 million of which 65 per cent domestic and the rest international, contributing RM5.1 billion to Sabah’s economy.
The tourism growth continued this year where the first seven months, a total of 1,838,295 tourists visited the state, which signified an increase of 13.5 per cent, compared to the same period last year.
This year the state is targeting 3.01 million tourist arrivals and RM5.4 billion in receipts.
The newly launched holiday packages come in time as Malaysia will be celebrating its fourth Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) next year.
It is set to promote the country internationally and highlight various pro-active initiatives by the Tourism Ministry and Tourism Malaysia.
Many fascinating events and festivals have been lined up throughout the year; where some of the major events will take place in Sabah such as the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon, Kudat Sunset Music Festival, Sabah Fest and the Paragliding Accuracy World Cup.
On the holiday packages, it is well prepared to suit the people’s interest, such as for those who love cooking, they may opt for the Let’s Main Masak-Masak with Hajah Limah tour package to learn Malaysian dishes using local ingredients and herbs, or the Mystical Land Below The Wind in search of the supernatural belief, ancient rites and spiritual realm.
For the photography and nature enthusiasts, A Journey Thru My Lens package suits them well as they would get up close with the abundant and exotic wildlife in Kinabatangan such as the endangered Borneon Pygmy elephants and Proboscis Monkeys.
These tour packages will be promoted through websites, online social media, email blasts and brochures at Tourism Malaysia state and overseas offices.
Also present was MATTA vice-president (Inbound) K L Tan.