KOTA KINABALU: Visitors making their way to the state capital over the next three weeks can count themselves lucky if they find hotel rooms without prior bookings.
Rooms at most three to five-star hotels are fully booked for the rest of the month with as many as 60,000 tourists from China expected to arrive in the city over the Chinese New Year period.
Officials are scrambling to add to the existing 10,000 hotel rooms in Kota Kinabalu, which remains the focus of visitors from China.
“I’ve spoken to City Hall to speed up the process of granting occupation certificates for a new hotel if all technical requirements are above board,” Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Pang Yuk Ming told FMT.
The demand for hotel rooms is also seeing a surge in rates, with a well-known resort commanding up to RM1,700 per room per night for a minimum three-night stay. This is nearly double the resort’s off-peak rates.
Restaurateurs are also bracing for a surge of customers with most eateries reporting they are already fully booked for reunion dinners on Chinese New Year eve.
Sabah Restaurant Friendship Association secretary James Tseu said although tourist arrivals from China and other countries like Korea have been rising in recent years, the number of eateries in the city had not increased substantially.
He said restaurants were fully booked for Chinese New Year eve reunion dinners as many of their customers also comprised local families.
Pang said there would be as many as 400 flights from various parts of China to Sabah during the Chinese New Year season, which is defined by the travel industry as a week before and two weeks after the actual date.
On average, the aircraft used for these flights have a capacity of about 150 passengers with a load factor of not less than 90%.
Pang said tourist arrivals from China during the Chinese New Year season had been on the uptrend over the past five years with many of the travellers comprising those in their 30s and 40s.
“For some, Chinese New Year is a time to travel but they try to keep to tradition by bringing their parents along,” he said.
Sabah received more than 3.65 million China tourists in 2017, an increase of 430,000 or more than 14% compared with the year before.
Sabah’s tourism revenue during that period was estimated at about RM7.7 billion.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun had said that due to the increasing number of tourist arrivals, the state cabinet had asked several companies to build more hotels to address the growing demand.
Source : Free Malaysia Today