KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s tourism industry is expected to contribute RM8 billion in tourism receipts this year, said Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew.
Liew, who is also the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, said tourist arrivals to the State had been shown a steady growth from 3.4 million in 2013 to 3.7 million in 2017, with an increase in revenue contribution from RM6.35 billion to RM7.8 billion in the same period.
“For 2018, we are looking at RM8 billion in tourism receipts.”
For the first half of 2018, she said tourist arrivals into Sabah was registered at 1.892 million compared to 1.796 million for the same period last year, which marked an increase of 96,026 or 5.35 per cent.
“International arrivals made up 16.57 per cent of this increase, with China market as the largest contributor to the increase foreign arrivals.”
To further boost the tourism industry in Sabah, Liew said her ministry would continue its effort to attract more tourists from Asian countries, especially China, Taiwan and South Korea, as well as to increase the share of the European market.
Liew stated that in her speech, which was delivered by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai, when launching the Seminar on Development of Sustainable Tourism in the Rural Areas of Sabah organized by the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Sabah in collaboration with the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) here yesterday.
She said the ministry also planned to develop and promote other tourist destinations, especially in the east coast of Sabah including Tawau, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Sandakan to bring about more holistic approach to tourism development in Sabah.
She said the east coast towns had not been performing well in the past due to security and safety reasons.
Nonetheless, Liew said the situation in the east coast area had improved tremendously with new strategic measures put in place to boost the security of the coastal areas and the close cooperation between Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia in border security surveillance.
She said many areas with potential for tourism development in the east coast towns could be turned into tourism destinations to cater to the increasing numbers of tourists arriving in Sabah.
On another note, she emphasized on the need for Sabah to keep up with the advancement of technology in this digital and artificial intelligence (AI) era in order to remain competitive in the tourism industry and be on par with other destinations in the region.
She said the tremendous growth in tourism sectors globally, including Sabah, was due to the strong market support and the advancement of digital technologies and AI.
With the click of the internet, she said holiday seekers could access information about destinations, transportation, tour packages and accommodation.
She stressed that the trend of going cashless and paying by payment apps for tourists from more technically advanced countries in the Asian region such as South Korea, China and Taiwan would become a normal feature in the tourism sector in the very near future.
“Many tourism related business operators in Sabah are already embracing this mode of payment.”
Also present were IDS Sabah chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, IDS Sabah senior associate director Jenny Liaw and STB general manager Suzaini Datuk Sabdin Ghani.