LABUAN: Labuan will be flooded with the influx of Chinese tourists beginning July.
At least some 2,000 Chinese tourist arrivals per week and 8,000 per month from the country’s six major cities are expected to flock to the duty-free island and this will continue until December this year.
Labuan Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Isli said the influx of the long-awaited Chinese arrivals with greater purchasing power would kick-start the island’s tourism industry and its economic base transformation.
“With everything in place, we expect the first flight carrying at least 146 to 160 Chinese tourists will arrive here on July 15 and this will continue until year-end,” he said at two business events — Engagement Session with Tourism Industry Players and launching of the 19th Malaysian Malay Chamber of Commerce Labuan Annual General Meeting here.
He said a Kuala Lumpur-based tour agent in collaboration with its Chinese counterpart had chosen Labuan for the huge influx of Chinese tourists and this augured well for the island’s tourism industry.
Rozman, who is also Labuan Corporation chairman, said the local authority had been preparing to welcome the Chinese tourist arrivals with improved facilities at its existing islands and attraction spots.
“Two months to go to prepare for the influx of the Chinese tourists, in terms of adequate accommodation in hotels, and cleanliness and hygiene in restaurants as well as security,” he said.
He said the China-based tour agent will be visiting the island on May 2 to witness first hand the island’s tourist attractions and facilities.
“Therefore, industry players, hoteliers, eateries and businesses must help in giving better first impression to the tour agents and the tourists,” he said.
Rozman said the Federal Government through various related ministries and agencies would chip in to assist in developing Labuan’s tourism industry.
“The directive by the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) to the relevant ministries and agencies involving initiatives and projects for Labuan, will be of great help for the island to boost its tourism industry,” he said.
Tiara Hotel manager Carol Wong told Bernama the hotel was prepared for the influx of the Chinese tourists.
“We have various packages for tourists to boost the industry. We have improved facilities to cater for the high demand and expectation of the tourists,” she said after the Engagement Session.
Tiara Hotel with its affiliate hotels like Tiara Villa offers accommodation packages for small and large tourist groups, as do the newly-completed Lazenda Hotel situated in the town centre and Palm Beach Resort Hotel, a 15-minute drive from the airport.
“Just last Saturday, we received an ex-army who served during the Second World War II accompanied by their families and friends mostly from Australia and New Zealand who came to attend the Anzac Day Dawn Service today. They received a traditional welcome from our staff,” she said.
Meanwhile, two nonagenarians who had fought as soldiers during the Second World War yesterday attended a memorial service here to honour the Australian, New Zealand and local soldiers who perished during that war.
Ron Hatch, 92, and Len Snell, 95, attended the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) dawn service at Labuan WWII Memoral Park, Malaysia’s largest war memorial.
Hatch was a commando with the 2nd/22nd Commando Batalion during the Labuan and Asia Pacific Liberation Campaign while Snell was with the 2nd/24th brigades of the 9th Division Australian Imperial Force – Borneo-D Day’s Oboe 1 Tarakan.
Accompanied by 68 family members and friends, they attended the ceremony that started at 5am and was hosted by the Borneo Exhibition Group Inc, Perth, in collaboration with the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board Labuan.
Yesterday’s commemoration marks the anniversary of the first major military action of the Australian and New Zealand forces during World War II in then Malaya.
Twenty-seven Malaysian students from Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan also took part in the commemoration in appreciation of the sacrifice of the soldiers of World War II. – Bernama