KOTA KINABALU (March 22): South Korean visitors to Sabah is on the rise with 21,541 arrivals recorded during the first month of this year.
This is a significant increase as the figure was nearly half of the 55,152 South Korean tourists arrivals recorded throughout last year.
“The Korean market is so important to us that it was the first country the Sabah Tourism Board team visited when the border reopened in April of last year to engage with airlines and travel agents there,” said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board.
“The surge in Korean tourists is largely thanks to the increase in scheduled direct flight into Sabah, and of course, this could not have been possible without a close engagement,” he said, adding Kota Kinabalu is also well connected via Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, China, Taipei and Brunei.
Joniston, who is Asssistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment, made this remark in an interview with the media team of the Korean-based Coceuco company, which had organised an incentive trip to Sabah for 450 top achievers.
Coceuco manufactures and sells multi-functional skin care products under the brand Repove.
In regards to regular flights, Joniston stated that there are currently 30 weekly direct flights from Korea into Sabah, with Kota Kinabalu connecting via Incheon and Busan.
This is in contrast to the previous year, when there were only 16 weekly flights between Kota Kinabalu and Incheon.
Joniston added Sabah’s islands, beaches, and golf courses are popular among the Korean tourists.
Prior to the pandemic, Sabah registered 396,700 tourists from South Korea in 2019 and 337,100 in 2018. They are the second largest international arrival after China.