Sabah is looking to an exceptional tourism year 2018 with both tourist arrivals and revenues up for the first ten months of 2017.
The tourism sector in Sabah raked in a revenue of RM6.396 billion in the first ten months of 2017, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manju, according to a report from malaysia national news agency Bernama.
The Minister highlighted that the State government paid RM741.15 million (US$182.2 million) to the Federal government in the form of corporate and income tax, including the Goods and Services Tax, while another RM2.915 billion (US$716.9 million)was directly injected into the state economy from this total tourism income.
“Although the tourism sector does not contribute directly to the state government, it is still an important sector as it has a huge impact on the state economy via spillover effects like employment opportunities for the locals in the services sector,” Masidi said in the ministry’s winding-up speech at the state assembly here today.
Total tourist arrivals were up by 9.5% with a total of 3.02 million domestic and international travellers between January and October. International tourist arrivals represent a third of all arrivals with a total of just one million during the same period – a growth of 7.6% compared to 2016.
Northeast Asia showed the highest growth rate of any incoming market with a jump of 26.5% in total arrivals between January and October. Arrivals from Korea are up by 56.3%, followed by Taiwan with a growth of almost 17% and China PRC with 16%. However, international arrivals from Europe and North America are down, by respectively 12.5% and 9.8%.
China is likely to continue to grow as more flights are being planned. Direct flights linking Sabah’s capital to Beijing, China will commence on January 16 by Xiamen Air with two weekly frequencies. The new route is set to bolster the state’s tourism sector according to Manjun: “The direct flight from China will be a game changer. There will be an opportunity to improve on the quality of tourists as we can tap into the rich Northern Chinese market from Beijing,” he declared.
The Minister indicated that at least three more Chinese cities — Changsha, Tianjin and Guangzhou — should be linked to Sabah in 2018.
Another boost for the State toruism içndustry is the opening of a twice weekly service linking Kota Kinabalu to Jakarta by Batik Air. The route was officially launched on December 20. AirAsia previously had direct flights running the route, but these were cancelled.