Sabah to Strengthen Tourism Promotion to Europe and Australia

Malaysia, Sabah, market strategy

Christina Liew, Sabah Minister of Tourism and Culture

Local newspaper the Borneo Post reported that Sabah State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment in East Malaysia is looking into promoting Sabah tourism to the European and Australian markets in a bid to rebalance tourist arrivals…

The Borneo Post reported that Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Christina Liew, indicated that her ministry would send officers to see how stronger cooperation could be achieved with Europe and Australia to promote Sabah.

Liew, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, said the promotion of Sabah tourism industry should not only be confined to the Chinese markets.

“We want to start promoting to the European and Australian markets. We used to have done so but it has slowed down,” she said during a courtesy call by the Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) led by its president, Datuk Seri Winston Liaw, here yesterday.

European tourists were considered as the high-end market, who tend to stay longer than the Chinese tourists.  The minister highlighted the fact that there should be a balance of Chinese tourists in the lower and medium end spectrum and high-end European tourists.

On another note,  the Minister indicated to analyse the possibility of centralizing or standardizing the quality of tour guides. One of the ways to do so was to have training for tour guides in place, she said, adding that her ministry used to provide the training but it was suspended.

“I propose for the training to be revived,” she said.

According to her, tour guides were required to acquire certain knowledge, such as the background and history of tourism hot spots. Efforts will also be made to have more Chinese-speaking tour guides, particularly to Sandakan and Tawau.

Christina also expressed her surprise upon learning from Satta that there were hardly any Chinese-speaking tour guides in Sandakan and Tawau. More Chinese are now coming, especially due to new flights. It has been recently announced that Shenzhen Airlines would start four weekly direct services from Shenzhen to Kota Kinabalu in mid-October this year. Thai AirAsia will also relaunch its Bangkok-Kota Kinabalu route.

Additionally, Liew raised the issue of Chinese tour leaders who did guiding work instead of using local guides in Sabah, claiming that some tour leaders exploited loopholes in our regulation by employing local tour guides just to sit in to comply with the law, while the tour leaders did the commentary themselves.

(Source: the Borneo Post)