KOTA KINABALU: Tourism will continue to feature as part of Sabah’s economic development, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman.
Speaking at the launch of the opening of Mercure Hotel yesterday, Musa said with Sabah’s strong presence in the global tourism market, the government remained committed in further developing the sector along with private entities.
The Chief Minister also said Sabah had a variety of tourism products that could cater to the needs of tourists, from nature destinations to rich cultural heritage, a diversity of food and shopping options.
He added that the state government was also taking steps to ensure that the state’s eco-tourism products remained sustainable and would continue to attract travellers.
“We do this by focusing on sustainable and targeted development and with this, areas of natural heritage are continuously protected,” he said.
Musa also said Sabah was seeing a rise in interest among airlines to offer direct flights from regional destinations into the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, due to strong market support and the availability of both hotels and quality services.
“Just recently, Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai was quoted as saying that there had been an increase in the number of tourist arrivals at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). Visitor arrivals at KKIA between January and August stood at 5.3 million compared to 4.7 million in the same period last year, and this is an impressive growth,” he said.
He added that the state government welcomed the minister’s statement that the Transport Ministry was prepared to engage more airlines to use KKIA to fly in more tourists to Sabah.
At the same time, Musa also welcomed the launch of the Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Centre and said this would complement the current and projected future economic growth.
“Your location in one of the older parts of this city has further transformed the face of Kota Kinabalu. This second Mercure Hotel in Sabah after the one at 1Borneo Hypermall, is another milestone for your owners and a testimony of the confidence that investors have in Sabah. Apart from infrastructure development which the government provides, we need complementary services such as hotels, and these should be of a certain standard,” he said.
He added that the state government’s effort to market Sabah had relied strongly on identifying and working with the right partners ranging from the private sector to tourism associations and the relevant international groupings.
“After many years of putting in the effort, we are now seeing results. Sabah made the right decision over a decade ago when we placed our focus on tourism as one of our engines of growth and as outlined in the Sabah Development Agenda. This was followed by the attention given by the federal government on tourism as outlined in the Sabah Development Corridor and Economic Transformation Programme,” he said.
Also present at the event were Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, the hotel owner Haji Musa Haji Adnin, Accor MIS chief operating officer Garth Simmons and Mercure’s general manager Jacques Leizerovici.