KOTA KINABALU: The rate of tourist arrivals in Sabah has increased by a whopping 10.8 per cent, and this indicates the tourism industry has been performing well, said Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.
“As of June this year, the total number of tourists in Sabah was 1,791,493, which indicated an increase of 10.8 per cent compared to the same period of last year,” Masidi said at the opening ceremony of the 27th anniversary of Centre Point Sabah yesterday.
Masidi stressed that this was a brilliant achievement, as the state was on track to beat last year’s tourism record, which was regarded as ‘the best year for Sabah tourism’.
“A total of 3.43 million tourist arrivals was achieved last year, the highest number ever in Sabah’s history. This brought an estimated revenue of RM7.249 billion.
“We are very positive to achieve our target this year,” Masidi said.
However, he said the lack of hotels in Sabah could potentially halt the tourist arrivals to Sabah.
Thus, Masidi urged the investors and the hotel operators of the state to build more hotels to accommodate the increasing number of tourists.
He disclosed that there were over 175 international flights arriving at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) every week, and 79 of those flights were from China.
During summer (July to August), China will have an extra 28 direct flights to Sabah.
As for domestic flights, there were over 405 flights arriving at KKIA on a weekly basis, Masidi added.
Masidi asserted that Sabah’s tourism industry was the only industry in the state that is fully controlled by locals.
“If you look at the plantation industry, over 80 per cent of its workers are foreigners and as for the construction industry, over 60 per cent of its workers are also foreigners.
“But for the tourism industry, over 95 per cent of its workers are locals,” Masidi explained.
Masidi said that this proved the fact that Sabahans were extremely passionate about their tourism industry.
On a separate note, Masidi congratulated Centre Point Sabah for celebrating its 27th anniversary and for being the staple in the shopping industry of the state.
“Center Point has become a part of our lives. It is the modern mall in Kota Kinabalu…it is like an institution here in the city.
“I cannot believe that it has been this long. Center Point used to be the most attractive mall in Kota Kinabalu,” Masidi said.
He even joked that Centre Point was the place where people would ‘find’ love and ‘lose’ love.
In conjunction with its anniversary, Centre Point Sabah will be organizing various events, suitable for all ages.
Yesterday’s opening ceremony featured various performances from renowned local magician Fareez Yusop, jazz band EC Jammers and JKKN Sabah.
Also present in the event was Pan-Pacific Construction Holdings General Manager Edward Chang.