KOTA KINABALU: Eastar Jet’s new non-stop flights from Busan to Kota Kinabalu brings Sabah Tourism Board (STB) closer to its Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) mission for Sabah in 2017.
Its general manager, Gordon Yapp, said STB has plans to go beyond its maintained target tourists such as Free Independent Travelers (FITs), couples as well as families, and expand to catering for a specialized niche of group tourism dedicated to conferences, seminars, or company incentive trips, among others.
Therefore, Eastar’s decision to be the first South Korean carrier to open Busan directly to its sole Malaysian destination is apt as the latter city is part of South Korea’s largest industrial area with the likes of globally renowned Hyundai and Samsung and a 10 million population count, he added.
According to the general manager, the low cost carrier’s first direct flight from Seoul to Kota Kinabalu had already contributed to the 144,596 Kota Kinabalu arrivals between January and September 2016.
“The arrivals from Seoul as of January to September had actually increased by 45.2% compared with last year,” said Yapp at the press conference for the Eastar Jet’s December 15 Busan-Kota Kinabalu inaugural flight here yesterday.
“With the new flights, we can expect to add another 3% to 4% arrivals increase from Seoul and Busan,” he revealed, adding that STB is also on its path of increasing flight accessibility.
The general manager also said with the Malaysia Airports Berhad statistics of 30% increase of international arrivals into Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), STB is confident in achieving the aim of 240,000 to 260,000 Kota Kinabalu arrivals from South Korea in 2017.
Eastar Jet (Future Strategic Department) executive managing vice director Jeong Nak Min led Eastar delegates, Commerce and Airport Service Department general manager Kim Hui Jo, Future Strategic Department staff You Yeo Soo, Passenger Sales Team manager Lee Seok Kyu, and Kota Kinabalu Office regional branch manager Jung Jin Gi on its inaugural Busan to Kota Kinabalu flight.
The flight landed with a full load at KKIA before midnight on December 15 and the carrier has forward bookings up to March 2017 for the route.
Tourism Malaysia Seoul director Syed Muhadsir Jamallulil, MAB operations manager Hasbi Mohd Said, STB deputy general manager Suzaini Sabdin Ghani and Tourism Malaysia Seoul marketing manager Jay Joo were also present during the press conference.