KOTA KINABALU: Despite the fact that Sabah is experiencing positive growth through flow of investments, enhanced economic cooperation and improved trade relations, the increase in the number of hotel rooms is still insufficient to meet the ever increasing tourist arrivals in the State, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman.
“We are still short of hotel rooms, especially in Kota Kinabalu,” Musa said.
He said the number of tourist arrivals for the first half of this year was about 1.8 million, a growth rate of 11 percent compared to the same period last year.
Last year, he said Sabah received tourists to the tune of 3.4 million.
Musa said he had met a leader from mainland China on one occasion, who had wanted to bring in 10,000 people to Kota Kinabalu.
“I say, cannot. If 10,000 (tourists) at one time, there is not enough rooms in hotels and resorts. So I asked him to come in phases, maybe 3,000 people (at one time). So you can see how many people want to come to Sabah.
“We need more hotels and resorts, and of course, skilled manpower. That is what ATI College is providing now,” Musa said, when gracing the 20th convocation ceremony of the college here yesterday.
Earlier in his speech, Musa said the hospitality and tourism industry was a key income generating sector for Sabah.
He said the State government will continue to strive harder to provide the best economic stimuli to boost the industry for it to remain viable for many more years to come.
“However, we cannot do this alone. We need not only the support of the private sector but also skilled and knowledgeable workers such as those who graduate from ATI College,” he said.
In addition, he said the State government will continue with its commitment to the hospitality and tourism sectors, namely, through the Development Agenda or Halatuju and by supporting federal-led initiatives such as the Sabah Development Corridor and Economic Transformation Programme.
“It is crucial for Sabah to stay ahead of the latest trends and needs in the tourism sector for us to remain relevant, and for Sabah to continue offering tourism products that would attract tourists, both from within Malaysia and overseas,” he said.
One of the plans the State government is looking forward to is the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development project which will transform Tanjung Aru into one of the region’s best tourism spots, with the beach and Prince Phillip Park remaining a public space, he said.
“This project will also create quality jobs for our local youths,” Musa assured.