Sabah eyes North China tourists

KOTA KINABALU: Plans are afoot for Sabah to capture a share of the Northern China travel market via long-term flight chartering targeted at 200,000 tourists in the first year.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Christina Liew said Monday, the initiative is a result of international travel collaboration between Cekal Aman Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) and its China flight charter partner, BJ. ST. International Travel Co Ltd (China).

She noted that BJ. ST. International Travel is currently the major operator in China involved in chartering flights out of China to Jeju City, South Korea (2016 recorded 1.6 million outbound tourists) and Nha Trang and Da Nang (Vietnam) which recorded 600,000 outbound tourists in 2018…

“Against this scenario, we must capitalise on Northern China’s outbound tourism by wooing the tourists to make Sabah their preferred holiday destination,” she said during a courtesy call by a delegation from Cekal Aman Sdn Bhd seeking support from the State Government.

Liew, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, has asked the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) to render the necessary assistance to facilitate the inflow of Northern Chinese tourists to Sabah.

Briefing the Minister, Operations Director of KK Suites Group of Hotels and Cekal Aman Sdn Bhd, Aaron Chang said Northern China is a relatively new market with flight chartering by BJ. ST. International Travel from cities like Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Nanjing, Chongqing, Xi’an, Wuhan, Shijiazhuang and Shenyang to Kota Kinabalu.

“Flight chartering from those routes is ready to start in three months’ time upon full approval by the local authorities. We aim to bring in about 200,000 tourists from Northern China in the first year of commencement. Our forecast for the second year is between 350,000 and 400,000 tourists,” he said, adding that of the figure (200,000), some 50,000 to 100,000 tourists will be diverted to Tawau and Semporna.

At this juncture, Chang emphasised the need for more three to five-star rated hotels to cater to the anticipated influx of Northern Chinese tourists in the next 10 years.

He collaborates with International Business Director of BJ. ST. International, Emerson Lo Vun Zet who is a Malaysian based in China.  Also present were the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary William Baya, STB Chairman Ken Pan Ying On, STB Acting General Manager Noredah Othman and KK Suites Group tourism consultants David Thien and Rahman Naim.

Source : Daily Express

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