PUTATAN April 19, 2012: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said now was the right time for tour companies from China to invest and bring in their operations to Sabah, citing the ever growing number of visitors from the Republic into the state.
He said China would remain a major market for Sabah’s tourism sector with the number of tourists coming in from the country expected to continue on an upward trend for years to come.
“Tourism agencies from China would greatly benefit not only from providing services to the local people wanting to travel overseas but also from bringing in visitors from China and various destinations into Sabah.
“Sabah may have a population of only three million but it is actually a big market as the state is an increasingly popular destination for tourists from all over the world,” he said at the launch of Huang Long Travel and Tours (M) Sdn Bhd office here.
Masidi said Sabah could serve as a gateway to other international destinations, and both local and foreign companies could cash in big if they could provide competitive packages to attract potential travellers.
He added that tour agencies would also find it easier to do business here as compared to anywhere else due to the conducive business environment and availability of the resources needed.
“The presence of Chinese companies here would also help promote better ties between Sabah and China, consequently increasing collaborations and trade not just in tourism but also in other sectors,” he asserted.
He noted that Sabah was not only blessed with abundant natural resources but also boasts a colourful and diversed culture, where people from different backgrounds understand, respect and appreciate each others’ unique traditions.
“Sabah is home to a significant number of Chinese communities as well as non-Chinese people who speak fluent Chinese who can be hired by foreign companies to cater for visitors from China as well as Taiwan,” he added.
Chinese tourist arrivals in Sabah last year increased by more than 27 per cent as compared to the previous year.
In January alone, a total of 19,556 visitors from China spent their holidays in Sabah, which more than doubled the number of tourists from the country recorded in the corresponding month last year.
Earlier, Masidi said the increasing number of international operators collaborating with local agencies as well as those coming directly to run a joint operation here indicated a growing confidence among foreign investors towards Sabah’s tourism industry.
“This speaks volume that we are doing the right thing and heading towards the right direction in terms of tourism development,” he said.
Huang Long Travel and Tours Malaysia is jointly owned and operated by a local investor and a tour company from Taiwan.
Managing director Jeff Kuo said their main focus for now would be bringing in tourists from China as well as Taiwan, before expanding to other markets in near future.
He said the company would also look for possible opportunities in other activities apart from travel and tours.
“More and more tourists in the world are now going for nature destinations, and Sabah with its political stability, is a very attractive option.
“There are some other places that offer similar nature attractions but not many as politically stable as Sabah, hence giving the state a huge advantage,” he said.
Sabah is currently listed as one of top ten most popular destinations among the Taiwanese.
- Based on the figure declared by the Sabah Tourism Board, the number of visitors from Taiwan last year increased by 12.5 per cent to 51,969 from 46,213 in 2010.
- In the first two months of this year, a total of 8,884 Taiwan tourists visited Sabah, an increase of 24.3 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.
- The total number of international tourists visiting Sabah last year was 845,910, representing an increase of 6.3 per cent from 795,953 in 2010.