Makassar gains prominence from Sabah’s marketing efforts


Lingga (right) launching the Makassar tour package as Sia (on his left), Chong (second, right) and guests look on.

KOTA KINABALU (August 20): Makassar on eastern Indonesia’s Sulawesi island has become a gateway to trade due to its strategic position.

Consulate General of Indonesia in Kota Kinabalu, Consul (Economic Function) Lingga Setiawan said Makassar has gain prominence from Sabah’s marketing efforts.

“We hope that more Sabahans will explore the diverse eastern destinations,” said Lingga when launching the Makassar tour package courtesy of Funholiday in conjunction with the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) Sabah Chapter’s Malaysia International Travel Mart (MITM) at Suria Sabah.

The two-day travel fair was launched by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.

“Makassar offers attractions like Wakatobi National Park, poised to become another Bali-like hotspot.

“Northern Sulawesi has also developed new attractions to entice Sabahans to explore Indonesia’s eastern side,” said Lingga.

This initiative, he said facilitated by Funholiday, promotes tourism and strengthens people-to-people connections, particularly between Sabah and Indonesia.

Makassar is also promoted as the “Sacred Land of Toraja” including having the highest Jesus Christ statue.
“Many Malaysians with roots in Toraja can reconnect with their lineage and kin through the Makassar,” he said.

Air connectivity to Makassar is available via direct flights from Kuala Lumpur. Sea travel involves a ferry from Tawau to Nunukan, taking a longer duration, he said.

A direct flight possibility from Sabah to Makassar is being considered based on traffic, he said.

Plans are underway to revive flights between Sabah and Eastern Kalimantan.

With the upcoming relocation of Indonesia’s capital, Nusantara in eastern Kalimantan, he said Sabah being the nearest destination to Indonesia will enjoy the economic spill over.

“This move is expected to benefit both Sabah and Indonesia, fostering increased travel and collaboration,” he said.

Also present were MCTA Sabah Chapter chairman Vincent Sia, Funholiday’s Managing Director Connie Chong and other guests.

In her speech, Liew said the MITM, Sabah Chapter travel exhibition, renowned for its immense potential, stands as a testament to the resilience of the tourism realm.

She said pre-pandemic times MITM orchestrated successful events at a couple of shopping malls here in the city.

“Initially, my perception of Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) centred primarily on outbound tourism packages, seemingly favouring international destinations. However, since March 2022, a transformative shift has occurred as MCTA anchored a noteworthy Business-to-Business (B2B) networking event, wholeheartedly supported by the Sabah Tourism Board.

“Collaboratively, the Sabah Chapter united with MCTA’s seven other divisions across Malaysia, ushering in 65 travel agencies for a united exploration. The collective efforts of MCTA members radiated as a beacon of hope for Sabah,” she said.

This unity paved the way for a revitalisation, resulting in the arrival of 8,000 inbound tourists between April to December 2022, she said and stressed that the upturn subsequently extended its benefits to several sectors, such as hospitality, aviation, culinary endeavour, local attractions, transportation services, and amplified job opportunities.

“Today, as members from different states come together to strengthen various regions’ tourism offerings, the spirit of unity resonates even more strongly. We hope this culture of collaboration will continue indefinitely, creating a cycle where Sabah benefits from your support, and in return, we showcase the tourism gems of each state.

“I eagerly anticipate future partnerships with MCTA, as we amplify our contributions to Sabah’s dynamic tourism landscape. Should the need arise for assistance from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment or should any innovative notions surface, I extend an open invitation to connect. The ministry is fully supportive, especially in fostering an expanded and enhanced MITM travel exhibition the next time around,” said Liew.