KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) president Datuk Seri Winston Liaw yesterday encouraged foreign investors to invest in the tourism industry in Sabah, including building more hotels.
He said all hotels in Kota Kinabalu were operating at not less than 80 per cent occupancy rate.
“In the next two to three years, our hotel rooms will not be sufficient.
“In fact, there is not enough hotel rooms already due to increasing number of direct flights from China to Kota Kinabalu,” Liaw said during the launching of Asia Pacific Taiji Wushu Convention 2017 here yesterday.
Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai was the guest of honour for the launching of the convention.
Two years ago, Liaw said the east coast of Sabah was perceived as unsafe.
Today, he pointed out that 80 per cent of passengers flying from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau were Chinese tourists.
“Tourists have to make reservations for resort accommodation in Semporna and Tawau two to three months in advance or there will be no rooms left.”
He added that there used to be peak travel seasons for China tourists travelling to Sabah in the past, namely the Chinese New Year festive period and from July to August.
“The peak or non-peak periods for Sabah tourism are becoming less obvious now.
“But hotels in Kota Kinabalu are running at least 80 per cent occupancy rate.”
Liaw said the economy of Sabah relied on the tourism industry, shifting away from timber, mining and construction sectors.
“The price of palm oil has also remained stagnant for the past four to five years.
“Sabah, Malaysia and the whole world now depend on the tourism industry to support their economy.”
Liaw said Sabah tourism was still at its initial development stage and therefore he encouraged investors from China and other countries to invest in the State.
Earlier, he also thanked the Mayor and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) for their effort in turning Kota Kinabalu from a quiet to vibrant spot at night.
On the Asia Pacific Taiji Wushu Convention 2017 which will be held in Kota Kinabalu from November 17 to 20 this year, Liaw said the inaugural event was expected to attract up to 1,000 participants, including around 500 from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia.
The convention is jointly organized by Guangdong Taiji Cultural Research Centre, Kota Kinabalu Funei Taiji Association and Satta.
Liaw, who is also the president of Kota Kinabalu Funei Taiji Association, said the convention aimed not only to promote Taiji, but also sports tourism.
Also present were Sabah Chinese Communities Association of Kota Kinabalu (USCCAKK) president Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen, Huang Association of Malaysia president Datuk Wong Ten An, Malaysia China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) Sabah branch president Datuk Frankie Liew, Kota Kinabalu Funei Taiji Association vice president Datuk Sia Hiong Sing, Datuk Tan Tiang Lai, Guangdong Taiji Cultural Research Centre president Li Zheng and secretary general Chen Xioabao.