KOTA KINABALU, Nov 29 — Sabah is targeting the arrival of 2.8 million tourists next year, which is expected to generate an income of RM5.6 billion, the Sabah State Legislative Assembly was told today.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the target was driven by her ministry’s plan to intensify the organisation of iconic and internationally recognised events in the state.

“It is specifically to revive events that were once iconic to the state, such as the Mount Kinabalu Climbathon, and also Sabah Fest,” she said when winding up the state Budget 2024 debate.

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She said the arrival of tourists to Sabah was also very encouraging, with the arrival of 1.88 million tourists, which generated an estimated tourism expenditure of RM3.95 billion, for the first nine months of this year.

“This is a very good increase, with a growth rate of 58.2 per cent, compared with the same period last year. This significant increase is driven by the number of flights to this state,” she said.

Liew said that there are currently 317 domestic flights and 98 direct international flights to Kota Kinabalu weekly, involving 13 international destinations.

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Meanwhile, state Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Ellron Angin, when winding up the debate, said that, in efforts to develop high-performance sports in the state, the 10th Sabah Games (SAGA) will be held from December 16 to 22.

He said that a total of 22 sporting events will be contested, involving 3,110 athletes and officials, in the biggest sports event in Sabah, which will be held in four districts, namely Kota Kinabalu, Ranau, Tuaran, and Keningau.

“The Sabah Games will serve as a platform for sportsmen or athletes, from 28 districts statewide, to compete, before being identified and selected to represent the state, including to participate in the Malaysia Games or SUKMA 2024 Sarawak, which will take place in August next year,” he said. — Bernama