Kota Kinabalu May 11, 2012: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun applauded the commencement of MASwings service from Kota Kinabalu to Puerto Princess City, Palawan in the southern Philippines by the end of October.
Describing it as a natural progression of MASwings' expansion to the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), he said it was timely to tap the tourism potential of this part of the region, particularly Puerto Princess City, said to be a fast developing commercial centre of southern Philippines.
"With the cutting of direct flights to Japan and Perth by MAS, there is a need for Sabah to exploit the tourism potential of neighbouring countries," he said.
Masidi was asked to comment on the Maswings' announcement on Wednesday that the fully-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines would embark on its second phase of international route expansion by the end of October.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Captain Nawawi Awang, was quoted as saying that the new MASwings' international air service would cover the Kuching-Balikpapan (Indonesia), and Kota Kinabalu-Puerto Princess City, Palawan (Philippines) routes.
Nawawi also announced that the three-time weekly Tawau-Tarakan flights would start operating daily from July 1.
Masidi said the commencement of MASwings service to Palawan would provide the local people the opportunity to tap the market to ensure growth in the overall tourist arrivals in Sabah.
Masidi had earlier this year said tourist arrivals in Sabah last year rose by 13.6 per cent to 2.84 million compared to 2010.
The figure not only exceeded Sabah Tourism Board's (STB) projection of 2.63 million arrivals but also achieved its 2012 projection of 2.75 million.