Affordable adventures in Sabah await Peninsular M’sians

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is offering Peninsular Malaysians budget-friendly vacation options amid the rising cost of international travel, says State Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai (pic).

Sabah is not only an affordable holiday destination but also plays a crucial role in fostering national integration, he said.

“Travellers from Peninsular Malaysia will not only get to explore a new destination within Malaysia but also engage in cultural exchange with the local communities to foster a deeper sense of unity and understanding among Malaysians,” he told media practitioners at a breaking of fast event hosted by the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, according to a statement released here.

Acknowledging the economic concerns, specifically the depreciation of the ringgit, Bangkuai, however, noted that the lower ringgit renders Sabah and Malaysia as a whole a more accessible tourist destination.

“In choosing to visit Sabah, it’s akin to going overseas as you will be crossing the South China Sea,” he jested, adding that it was heartening to note the increasing number of domestic arrivals to Sabah.

Bangkuai, who is also STB chairman, said the shift in travel preferences would help domestic tourism grow and be in line with the state government’s Sabah Maju Jaya development plan to boost the state’s economy.

He also highlighted the importance of reciprocity in promoting national unity, urging Sabahans to embrace cultural exchange with people from other states.

Bangkuai is leading the STB team in the three-day 2024 MATTA Fair currently being held at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec) until today.

He thanked the media for promoting Sabah’s tourism stories, noting that their efforts contribute to the state’s key performance indicators, particularly in terms of arrivals and tourism receipts.

“Your collaborative efforts not only generate ripple effects but also empower local communities and enrich Sabah’s tourism landscape,” he added.

Sabah exceeded its 2023 tourism target of 2.2 million visitors, notching up 2.6 million visitors and RM5.5bil in tourism revenue.

Between January and December last year, the state recorded 1,754,797 domestic visitors while international arrivals stood at 858,475. Statistics from STB show that in the first two months of this year, Sabah had 300,990 domestic and 231,237 foreign tourists.

Sabah recorded a higher number of foreign arrivals (141,887) from North-East Asia, which includes China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. This was followed by 64,958 visitors from South-East Asia, including Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The countries with the most tourists coming to Sabah are China (91,936), followed by South Korea (42,653) and Brunei (36,066).

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