Monday, July 13

Sabah’s request to revive Jakarta-Kota Kinabalu flight


JAKARTA: Indonesia will consider Sabah’s request to revive the Jakarta-Kota Kinabalu direct flight to boost the tourism industry for both countries.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew raised the matter during her inaugural meeting with Deputy Minister of Promotion for Marketing Zone I, Ibu Rizki Handayani at the Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia, here, Saturday.

For instance, the direct flight from Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu by AirAsia ceased in January 2017 while the one by Batik Air was stopped in November 2018 after a year of operation.

“I was disappointed when the Jakarta-Kota Kinabalu route was stopped due to low passenger load from the Indonesian side. We need to re-open the route for the benefit of both parties.

“We (Sabah) must have direct access to Jakarta which is the gateway to Indonesia, and vice versa from Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu. Our Sabah Tourism Board (STB) officers must work harder to woo Indonesian tourists to Sabah. At the same time, we hope to get the Australians (visiting Bali) to come to Sabah too by servicing a Kota Kinabalu-Jakarta-Bali route and then back to KK,” she said.

In this regard, Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, mulled the idea of establishing a “friendship” pact between Jakarta and Kota Kinabalu.

Ibu Rizki said this proposal can be pursued with the Jakarta Tourism Regional Office under the Governor of Jakarta. She also agreed that tourist flow must be a two-way traffic for mutual success.

“Let’s work together to reach our goal. It is imperative that we have a joint promotion programme to further tap the tourism potential in Malaysia and Indonesia. We need to understand our target groups – business travellers and leisure travellers.

“Why don’t we do ‘branding’ together to increase our passenger load from Sabah to Indonesia and vice versa. I suggest we have a collaborative effort in promoting our countries in Korea and Bali. We get the Koreans to come to Jakarta or Bali and from here, we lure them to visit Kota Kinabalu,” she enthused.

Liew and Ibu Rizki exchanged notes on how they could promote their respective tourism destinations. Saying Sabah is leading in the eco-tourism sector, the latter said: “I would like to expand our tourism destinations in Indonesia to include eco-tourism just like Sabah.”

Ibu Rizki also offered tips on how to market new destinations (example, cities), using an existing well-known brand (example, Bali in Indonesia, and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah).

After all, Sabah and Indonesia have some resemblances in terms of ethnicity and cultural diversity, and culinary delights. Both Sabah and Bali are strong destinations for MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) events.

Liew, meanwhile, suggested that Indonesia and Sabah participate in each other’s travel fair from now on. STB General Manager Noredah Othman will bring this to the attention of the Board.

The Minister was accompanied on her study tour to Indonesia by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary William Baya, Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga, Noredah, STB Marketing Manager Bobby Alex (Indonesia) and Liew’s Private Secretary Helen Muhammari.

Also present were Acting Assistant Deputy Minister for Java, Kalimantan, Malaysia and Brunei, Ibu Adella Raung, Assistant Deputy Director of Promotion for Sabah and Brunei, Ibu Santy Lusiani, Assistant Deputy Director of Promotion for Kalimantan and Sarawak, Ibu Eni Komiarti, Vice-Consul of the Consulate-General of the Republic of Indonesia in Kota Kinabalu, Bapak Sartono Hendrarso, Consul Bapak Cahyono Rustam, Wildlife Adviser to Liew, Dr John Payne and WWF-Malaysia Conservation Director Henry Chan.