Move to raise tourism appeal of Sabah towns
Tourism Malaysia will improve the global perception on Lahad Datu and Semporna by increasing media coverage on these areas, its deputy director-general of planning Datuk Azizan Noordin said. He said this was to place greater focus on tourism appeal there and quell fears about visiting the areas, which were hit by conflict recently.
“We are also working with various embassies and high commissions here to manage the international perception on Lahad Datu and Semporna, in hopes that they will soon drop their advisories against travel to these areas. The situation in those areas is currently under control, and is not expected to see any deterioration,” he told reporters after launching the United Federation of Travel Agents’ Association (UFTAA) Global Travel and Tourism conference yesterday. The conference, which is attended by tourism industry players from various countries, ends on Sunday.
Azizan said the ministry was planning more activities and events for the year to ensure that it reached its target of 26 million tourist arrivals this year. He said Chinese tourists remained the top international arrivals, with 1.8 million tourists coming in within the past one year.
“We are happy because we are seeing an increasing number of middle to high-income tourists from mainland China, a large number of which come to Malaysia for our shopping festivals such as the watch expo. We are also seeing a significant increase in Middle Eastern visitors, from seasonal arrivals to visitors flying from various parts of the Middle East every other month now,” he said. He added that the top Asean arrivals were tourists from Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.