KOTA KINABALU: Sabah recorded a 21 per cent increase in tourist arrivals in January to October this year, as compared to the corresponding period last year.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said official figure for November and December was not available yet but the encouraging figure for the first 10 months lend confidence that the State will well exceed the targeted three million visitors by year-end.
Speaking at the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 Countdown here last night, Masidi said the sharp increase was contributed mainly by domestic tourists.
He noted over 1.82 million from the 2.55 million tourists that visited Sabah as of October were Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.
This represents an increase of 17 per cent for domestic arrivals as compared to the previous year.
A sharp increase of 307,325 people or 84.7 per cent was also recorded for international tourists segment, with China and Hong Kong as main contributor.
Masidi noted Sabah also recieved 237 specially chartered flights during the period, the highest in the country to date.
The increase was also supported by several new direct flights to Kota Kinabalu, including from Hangzhou, Shenzen and Shanghai in China, Kota Baharu in Kelantan, and Cebu in The Philippines.
He noted flight frequency from Tokyo amd Perth has also been increased to three and two times a week, bringing the total number of non-stop flights from international destinations to Kota Kinabalu to 18.
Additionally, Kota Kinabalu is also now a homeport for Star Cruises Aquarius.
“We have also recorded several notable success at international level for the private sector.
“For the first time this year, we recieved TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and the Agoda Golden Circle Award through Bunga Raya Resort.
“Also, Mabul Water Bungalows won Dive Resort of the Year while other five-star resorts such as Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, Hibiscus Villa Kudat also won excellence awards, including Best of Malaysia Awards from Expatriate Lifestyle,” said Masidi.
He added Kota Kinabalu was listed as “Top 10 Rising Asian Destinations” by TripAdvisor, following consistent positive feedback from visitors every year.