In a tête-à-tête with Apratim Ghoshal, Editor, Travel And Tour World at ITB Berlin 2023, YB Datuk Christina Liew, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Sabah, Malaysia shares her valuable opinion on Sabah’s tourism scene. She is optimistic about Sabah’s expansion to different countries as their target markets in 2023 tourism season.
Exclusive Interview of YB Datuk Christina Liew, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Sabah
Travel And Tour World: Congratulations to Sabah Tourism Board for the launch of your destination rebranding “Feel Sabah, North Borneo”. What is your message from this platform?
YB Datuk Christina Liew: ITB Berlin 2023 is one of the most important events of the tourism industry and I am very glad that Sabah is part of it. The message is straightforward. We want to tell the world especially tourists all over the country that we launched a new branding ‘Feel Sabah, North Borneo’ not because that was our origin. We were North Borneo before our independence in 1963. We discover lot of the key players are all over the world, would like to know what is it like to visit North Borneo, Sabah? So we are introducing a new brand. I would tell them, ‘Come to Sabah North Borneo to experience what we can offer you as an origin of Borneo paradise to the world. You are going to find all kinds of exciting, nature, wildlife and all these beautiful places almost in its original form as such.’ We would like to welcome all.
Travel And Tour World: As known to us, Sabah is a promising destination for nautical tourism. How, in your opinion, will it generate economic benefit to the state’s tourism industry?
YB Datuk Christina Liew: Actually, tourism is a big market in the sense that it involves all aspects of the livelihoods of the people of Sabah. From community based tourism to high end tourism players, and also the ordinary tourists coming from all over the world to come to Sabah to experience various kinds of options they can pick and choose in Sabah. So it has lot of financial as well as commercial benefits across Sabah tourism players. So it does have an impact and that’s why we are very consistently promoting Sabah’s tourism industry to the world.
Travel And Tour World: How is Sabah reviving as a MICE destination post pandemic?
YB Datuk Christina Liew: As the border opens we will be heading towards a wide market of MICE development. We are about to launch into it MICE theme and my officers were discussing last few days that we are going to promote not only the tourism of Sabah, but also launching the development of MICE in Sabah as well. We are quite prepared, we have biggest convention centre that can seat a maximum of 5,000 participants. We are quite ready for it.
Travel And Tour World: What are your target markets you would like to connect with from the ITB platform?
YB Datuk Christina Liew: My target market of course here would be the European market specially the German market. But we will not stop here. We will be going to the Australian, the US and Middle East markets. We will be branching out to new destinations for the year 2023. The biggest hit would be Germany, London i.e. all these European markets.
Travel And Tour World: Can we expect to see you at World Travel Market 2023 (WTM)?
YB Datuk Christina Liew: WTM London will be very important. That is why I, as the minister of Sabah, come personally. This is the first convention we have for this year 2023 and I make sure that all my key management people are here to support the program that we are launching today and the new branding “Feel Sabah, North Borneo”. About ITB Berlin 2023: ITB Berlin 2023 took place as a pure B2B event under the slogan ‘Open for Change’ from Tuesday, 7 March, to Thursday, 9 March. Since 1966, ITB Berlin has been the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. The internationally renowned ITB Berlin Convention takes place parallel to the show and is held live on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds.