As­so­ci­a­tion - Sabah Tourism Board

Asia Outlook - - Business Travel -

THE SABAH TOURISM Board (STB) was formerly known as Sabah Tourism Pro­mo­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (STPC) and is an agency of the Sabah State Gov­ern­ment. It is pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing and pro­mot­ing tourism for the State. First es­tab­lished in 1976, STB was re-es­tab­lished as a statu­tory agency in Novem­ber, 1985 and now comes un­der the re­mit of the Min­istry of Tourism, Cul­ture & En­vi­ron­ment, Sabah.

To­day, STB con­sti­tutes five ma­jor op­er­a­tional ar­eas: Mar­ket­ing Di­vi­sion, Re­search Di­vi­sion, Prod­uct Di­vi­sion, Fi­nance & Cor­po­rate Ser­vices Di­vi­sion, and Sup­port Ser­vices Di­vi­sion. The re­ac­ti­va­tion of its wholly-owned sub­sidiary com­pany, Sri Pe­lan­con­gan Sabah Sdn. Bhd. has en­abled STB to re­or­gan­ise and fo­cus its main ac­tiv­i­ties on tourism mar­ket­ing, pro­mo­tion and re­search.

Christina Liew of the Sabah Tourism Board in­tro­duced the As­so­ci­a­tion, its aims, and its ini­tia­tive in line with the State's over­rid­ing mis­sions.

Christina Liew (CL): Since the be­gin­ning, Sabah Tourism's aim was to pro­mote Sabah as a pre­mier des­ti­na­tion for na­ture and ad­ven­ture in the re­gion. The State has an abun­dance of at­tractions that are na­ture-based, and the Min­istry un­der Sabah Parks (es­tab­lished in 1964) is re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing these hotspots as con­ser­va­tion cen­tres that would at­tract tourism in the long run. We are very proud to say that Sabah is at the fore­front of con­ser­va­tion poli­cies for the coun­try. For ex­am­ple, Kin­a­balu Park, Malaysia’s first UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site, was gazetted in 1964, the same year Sabah Parks was set up. The Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man Ma­rine Park is the first ma­rine park in Malaysia set up in 1974.

Newer prod­ucts were in­tro­duced over the years, how­ever both the ma­rine and Kin­a­balu parks are the most fre­quented at­tractions for for­eign and lo­cal tourists un­til to­day. Con­ser­va­tion re­mains the key theme for Sabah.

Re­cently, Sabah Tourism in­tro­duced the Ru­ral Tourism pro­gramme, an ex­ten­sion of na­ture-based tourism fo­cus­ing on com­mu­ni­ties in ru­ral ar­eas and their life­styles. Ru­ral Tourism coined the tagline ‘lung-cleans­ing' to sug­gest ac­tiv­i­ties and tours done at lush ar­eas where the air is clean and re­ju­ve­nat­ing.

Sabah is also known for fresh seafood for North­ern Asia mar­kets. Food is slowly be­com­ing the main at­trac­tion for younger trav­ellers.

Asia Out­look (AsO): How would you say Sabah Tourism Board has de­vel­oped in re­cent years as a busi­ness travel hub and what are the key rea­sons be­hind its grow­ing ap­peal?

CL: Up to to­day, air travel ac­ces­si­bil­ity has in­creased, es­pe­cially con­nect­ing to Kota Kin­a­balu. There are more than 180 flights con­nect­ing the Kota Kin­a­balu In­ter­na­tional Air­port to 19 in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions. San­dakan and Tawau are also re­ceiv­ing di­rect flights from Kuala Lumpur for vis­i­tors who are keen to visit places like Sepi­lok and Kin­abatan­gan as well as div­ing off the is­lands of Sem­porna.

Sabah as a cruise des­ti­na­tion is be­ing slowly recog­nised although the cruise ter­mi­nal port has not been ren­o­vated and mod­ernised.

To­day, the tourism in­dus­try is the third big­gest in­come earner for Sabah. In 2017, to­tal ar­rivals grew 10 per­cent to 3.684 mil­lion or an es­ti­mated RM7.829 bil­lion in re­ceipts.

A num­ber of chain ho­tels are open­ing in Sabah due to the sta­ble Gov­ern­ment and in­vestor-friendly en­vi­ron­ment. Hil­ton and Me­cure Kota Kin­a­balu are now op­er­a­tional with Mar­riott join­ing the mar­ket very soon.

The busi­ness sec­tor is ea­gerly wait­ing the com­ple­tion of the Sabah In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre (SICC) due in early 2019. Sabah is al­ready re­ceiv­ing large in­cen­tive groups, and with the SICC, Sabah will be able to formerly hold busi­ness tourism events.

AsO: What is in store for Sabah over the course of 2018 and be­yond to con­tinue the good work al­ready com­menced and to en­hance its rep­u­ta­tion as a tourism and busi­ness travel hub fur­ther in the fu­ture?

CL: For 2018 we will look into new ar­eas. We have plans for de­vel­op­ing tourism prod­ucts for Tawau, which has been a stopover town all these years for vis­i­tors to go to Sem­porna and the is­lands for div­ing. We will also be look­ing at main­te­nance or up­grad­ing of our ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties in pub­lic ar­eas, es­pe­cially air­ports. We would like to give a very good first im­pres­sion for vis­i­tors when they land.

We would also be fo­cus­ing on con­ser­va­tion is­sues such as the sta­tus and long-term plan­ning of our large Bornean mam­mals. Af­ter all, Sabah is known for con­ser­va­tion since the very be­gin­ning.

AsO: Fi­nally, what progress and de­vel­op­ment would you hope and ex­pect to be able to re­port back in the fu­ture, both in re­gard to the Sabah Tourism Board as an en­tity, and to the busi­ness travel in­dus­try in Sabah as a whole?

CL: I would like to see growth in the mar­kets, es­pe­cially the long-haul mar­kets, so they grow along­side the ar­rivals com­ing from China. I would also like to see the cre­ation of newer tourism hotspots, es­pe­cially on the East Coast of Sabah.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.