Published on : Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew explained that the state government was working on developing long-term charter flights that would link cities like Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Nanjing, Chongqing, Xi’an, Wuhan, Shijiazhuang and Shenyang directly to Kota Kinabalu.
She stated that the effort involves local company Cekal Aman Sdn Bhd working with BJ ST International Travel Co Ltd, its China flight charter partner, a major operator accountable for attracting northern Chinese tourists to beach and island cities like Jeju in South Korea, and Nha Trang and Da Nang in Vietnam.
“Against this scenario, we must capitalise on northern China’s outbound tourism by wooing these tourists to make Sabah their preferred holiday destination,” she said during a visit by Cekal Aman officials yesterday.
Also, Liew is Sabah’s tourism, culture and environment minister.
Cekal Aman operations director Aaron Chang explained that Sabah could profit from the comparatively new northern Chinese tourist market, if tourists could initiate flying in three months, after acquiring important paperwork for the chartered flights.
In the first year, the batch would witness 200,000 tourists, of which some 50,000 to 100,000 tourists would be sidetracked to Sabah’s east coast districts of Tawau and Semporna.
“Our forecast for the second year is between 350,000 and 400,000 tourists,” he said.
Chang explained that there was a requirement for more 3- to 5-star hotels to serve the anticipated influx of northern Chinese tourists in the next 10 years.
In 2018, Sabah experienced some 594,000 Chinese tourists visit the state, which makes up about 44 per cent of its total international tourist arrivals.