KOTA KINABALU: Sabah could see an increase in Korean tourist arrivals once Jeju Air officially enters the state’s airspace on July 20, this year.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, who announced this here yesterday, is optimistic that the arrivals will increase above 2015’s 138,867, especially with Korea’s positive economic development.
He said the combination of existing major Korean airlines, Asiana Airlines, Eastarjet and Jin Air with Jeju Air would increase the total flights to 28 a week with 704 seats sold daily.
Jeju Air will provide direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Incheon.
“I think this is a very good development because it gives the space for more tourists from Korea to come to Sabah, and it is our hope, it will boost the tourism in Sabah, specifically and in Malaysia, in general,” said Masidi, when launching the ASEAN-Korea Tourism Capacity Building Workshop.
“This is a good start. I think Koreans know Sabah very well, obviously, but I think there are also Koreans who still need more information about Sabah. Our advantage is that there are many Koreans living in Kota Kinabalu and that makes them feel at home, which I think is an advantage for us,” he added.
However, the minister affirmed that there is a need to expand the promotion of Sabah beyond Korea’s capital and largest metropolis, Seoul.
In 2014, Sabah received 114,240 tourist arrivals from Korea and according to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia and Korea Tourism Organization, the number of Korean visitors into Malaysia and Malaysian visitors into Korea were 421,161 and 223,350 respectively in 2015.
According to Masidi, the January to March 2016 projection this year for South Korea had increased by 33.9% from 38,179 to 51,123, China increased by 60.3% from 55,364 to 88,746, Taiwan increased by 8.3% from 8,912 to 9,653, Australia increased by 16.3% from 6,362 to 7,402 and Brunei by 0.3% from 22,848 to 22,915.