Peninsula-based tour operators to explore Sabah’s community-based products

 Monday, March 7, 2022 


Domestic tourists visiting rural destinations have contributed significantly to Sabah amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chief Executive Officer, Noredah Othman said since the state government allowed interstate travel from Nov 1 last year, the state has experienced an influx of visitors from the peninsula.

Based on statistics STB received in December last year compared to the same period in 2020, the numbers rose several hundred per cent, which shows how important domestic travel is for Sabah, said Noredah during the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) B2B (business to business) session and MCTA Sabah chapter annual general meeting held at Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here today.

Starting tomorrow, MCTA members from Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan and Peninsular Malaysia will embark on a five-day familiarisation trip to explore the state’s rural community-based tourism in Kadamaian and Kiulu as well as Kinabalu Park and Sabah Tea Garden.

Despite the unprecedented challenges from the pandemic, she said Sabah tourism players have been very resilient and while waiting for the international borders to reopen soon, there was a need to support each other to promote domestic travel.

She said STB was delighted to collaborate with MCTA to organise the B2B programme as they were always ready to assist tourism players to revive the ailing industry.

Noredah said that they hope the B2B session is able to help Sabah especially when the international borders reopen later. The operators from the peninsular can help promote the state to their overseas travellers, besides Penang and Johor.

For community-based tourism, she said although this segment started since 2014, it was still new to visitors and they have many facilities and products to offer the buyers during the session as MCTA has invited nine product owners for the B2B session.

She said STB has been working hard to organise a joint promotion programme with airline companies to get air connectivity back again to Sabah, as before the pandemic struck, the state had more than 220 direct international flights especially from China and South Korea.

MCTA president Paul Paw said to date they have about 1,400 members nationwide to promote both inbound and outbound tours.

To boost the tourism industry, he said MCTA will be organising the Malaysia International Travel Mart (Mita) on July 8-10 at Mid-Valley in Kuala Lumpur.

TYK Adventure Tours founder Tham Yau Kong said community-based tourism is something new to visitors from the peninsula.

The tour operators from the peninsula are looking for new products in Sabah because most of them are only aware about climbing Mount Kinabalu but do not realise there are many attractions to explore at the foot of the mountain, said Tham who is specialising in adventure tours.

The B2B session was participated by 22 travel agents and hoteliers from Sabah and 60 buyers from Peninsular Malaysia.

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