KOTA KINABALU (Jan 20): Sabah is expecting an influx of tourists from China starting early February this year, according to State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
She said after attending a meeting on Friday, there is a principal agreement with AirAsia to bring tourists directly to Kota Kinabalu from three China provinces, including Shenzhen and Hangzhou.
Christina said she was informed by an airport manager that AirAsia had requested slots from February 1 to 3 for aircraft carrying tourists from China, and they are just waiting for the final confirmation.
“They will come in thousands. This is considering the airline bringing in three or four flights per day to Kota Kinabalu and there are three provinces to account for. We have to be prepared for this.
“Hence, we will meet with hoteliers and related associations to look into various aspects such as logistics, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops.
“I know that people have been complaining that things are expensive nowadays but the more tourists we bring in, the more money our people will make. It will be a good year for us,” she said.
Christina said this during a visit with Mayor Datuk Noorliza Awang Alip to an open market in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration at Segama here on Friday.
On preparation for the arrival of tourists from China next month, she said there is also an immediate need to address the issue of traffic congestion that is prevalent during festivities.
The Api-Api assemblywoman said she will raise the issue in a Cabinet meeting and hopes that the concerned authorities can resolve or at least ease the problem that has been plaguing Sabahans for many years.
“The issue is getting worse, especially when you factor in the tourism industry that is going to boom. This needs serious attention. We will discuss the matter with the City Hall (DBKK) and other related departments as this is not an issue that is unique to Kota Kinabalu,” she said.