KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) Sabah branch president Lawrence Wong yesterday urged tourism-related sectors to be fully prepared to welcome the influx of tourists from China in the months of June, July and August.
Wong said there would be a huge surge in tourists travelling on charter flights from many parts of China to Sabah in the three months.
“I urge the relevant sectors such as hotels, food and beverage (F&B), shopping malls, tourist vehicles and entertainment industry players to prepare themselves in welcoming the China tourists, and together enjoy the business opportunities and benefits brought about by the tourism industry.”
Wong said this during a courtesy call by Hubei Chamber of Commerce, China, led by its secretary general Lin Yong, to Sabah United Chinese Chambers of Commerce (SUCCC) headed by president Datuk Seri Panglima Gan Sau Wah here yesterday.
He said the tourism sector was one of the main pillars of the State economy, which has a spillover effect in almost every other sector.
“The concerted effort by the State Government, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, relevant departments, airline companies and travel agencies have resulted in encouraging performance in the tourism sector.”
Based on official statistics, Wong said tourist arrivals to Sabah had reached 500,000 in January and February this year, marking a 9.1 increase compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile, he said tourist arrivals from China has shockingly soared by 65 per cent in the same period.
“As such, we must take the China market seriously and continue to encourage them to visit Sabah.”
On another note, Wong said the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) was the second busiest airport in Malaysia, as well as provided many direct flights to various parts of China.
“With the effort from the State Government, we must take advantage of the favourable conditions and develop KKIA as an air hub for the Far East, thereby enhancing the tourism development in Sabah.”
Apart from the tourism sector, Wong said Sabah was also blessed with rich natural resources such as natural gas, petroleum, rubber and oil palm.
He welcomed entrepreneurs and investors to explore the investment climate in Sabah.
“As Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI) president Datuk Michael Lui always says, Sabah is like a rough diamond, ready to be polished for it to shine bright.”