KOTA KINABALU, Feb 15 — Sabah’s tourism industry had its best year ever in 2016, achieving record tourist arrivals and tourism receipts despite headwinds.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said Sabah received an all-time high of 3.43 million tourist arrivals and RM7.25 billion tourism receipts.
“International visitors alone saw a 15.4 per cent increase and, unsurprisingly, China was the biggest contributor, recording a 51.8 per cent increase from the year before,” he said, adding that Australia was also an emerging market, despite having only one direct flight a week from Perth.
Total tourist arrivals saw an increase of 7.9 per cent from 2015’s 3,176,226 visitors, while tourism receipts rose 9.7 per cent from RM6.61 billion.
“Despite all the challenges we faced last year, we still recorded an increase, and achieved a record number,” said Masidi during a press conference at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport today.
Sabah’s previous best was in 2013, with 3,383,243 arrivals.
Its tourism industry was subsequently depressed by high-profile abductions on the state’s east coast, the disappearance of MH370 in 2014, and other incidents.
Masidi said that airport services were a big contributing factor to supporting the tourism industry and continuous engagement with Malaysia Airports was a driving factor behind its success.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah said that they will continue to address issues and concerns of airport services in order to help facilitate the industry.
“KKIA is the second busiest airport in the country after KLIA and we see it as an important gateway not just to Sabah but to Malaysia.
“To help improve airport experience at Kota Kinabalu International Airport, in line baggage screening will be implemented by November that will hopefully reduce congestion,” he said.