KOTA KINABALU: The state tourism industry is turning to China to offset the loss incurred in the other tourism markets as the result of Malaysia Airlines' termination of some of its international routes recently, said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Masidi Manjun.
"We are making up the loss in the Japanese and Aussie market by marketing aggressively in China especially Shanghai and Guangzhou. The expected increase in Chinese arrival would offset decrease in Aussie and Japanese travellers.
"Japanese and Australia would be affected but not Korea as we have sufficient seats provided by three Korean airlines for the Kota Kinabalu-Seoul route.
"The net result is that MAS' termination of some international routes would hopefully have minimal impact on total tourists arrival in Sabah," he said at a private gathering here on Sunday.
Masidi expressed confidence in the growth of the Chinese market citing the fact that there was a 37% growth in Chinese tourists arrival in 2011 compared to 2010.
"This growth is despite the fact that there are no direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and other cities (with the exception of Shenzhen) in China, and Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) not open 24 hours due to upgrading work of the runways.
"It will operate 24-hours on May 1. So more chartered flights can operate between Sabah and mainland China," he said.
Masidi also disclosed that Dragon Air would increase its weekly flights to Sabah from five to six per week from July 1.
"We hope to bring in the Japanese tourists by Dragon Air via Hong Kong," he said.
According to former state cabinet minister, Tham Nyip Shen, traditional markets for Sabah tourism like Europe, United States of America and Australia are now declining, whilst China is now an emerging economy with a strong purchasing power.
China government statistics show the number of outbound tourists from the country in 2011 was 300 million. It was projected that about 27 million Chinese are expected to visit South East Asia by 2015.
For the Beach Honey pageant in the state, a team of some 50 people with 15 models will visit several tourist spots in Sabah and film a sea Bajau wedding involving the models and this will be shown in China later.Read More @ Source
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