Sabah hit 4 million tourists in 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Hats off to Sabah tourism and all stakeholders for achieving the target of four million tourists arrival set for 2019.

The overall record shows a total of 4,195,903 tourists from both domestic and international has visited Sabah last year.

It was an increase of 8.2 per cent to 402,981 against 3,879,413 in 2018.

“The overall international arrivals total for 2019 was 1,469,475 against 1,361,567   for last year (2018) with an increase of 136,559 or 7.9 per cent.

“Malaysian arrivals were recorded at 2,726,428 in 2019 compared to 2,517,846 in 2018, an increase by 266,422 or 8.3 per cent.

“International tourist arrivals comprised 35.02 per cent against the domestic arrivals total of 64.98 per cent from the total arrivals,” associate and in collaboration with Smiths Gore Sabah, Christopher Chan said.

He made the comment base on the data obtained from Sabah Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia.

“Although China continues to top the international arrivals throughout 2019 with the overall total of 598,566 compared to 593,628 in 2018, a marginal increase of 4,938 or 0.83 per cent.

“But, the significant arrivals from Brunei, Singapore and Korea has contributed towards achieving the four million target,” Chan enthused.

China contributed 40.73 per cent to 598,566 of the overall international arrivals to Sabah in 2019 to rank number one in the top 10 spots.

Followed by South Korea (396,660 or 26.99 per cent); Indonesia (115,879 or 7.89 per cent); Brunei (78,605 or 5.35 per cent); Taiwan (45,550 or 3.1 per cent); Philippines (38,384 or 2.4 per cent); Singapore (34,435 or 2.34 per cent); United Kingdom and Ireland (29,575 or 2.01 per cent); Japan (24,435 or 1.66 per cent) and Australia (19,354 or 1.32 per cent).

He noted the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus have wipe out the strong contributions by all the industry players including the airlines and various government agencies with their foreign counterparts.

“Years of hard work and investments by both local and foreign investors are now halted immediately until a medical cure has been developed to counter and cure this deadly virus.

“All flights to and from China that has been our key tourism contributor has been halted since the outbreak of this virus by the Sabah Government including many other countries,” Chan said.

The latest report from Malaysian Associations of Hotel indicated that Sabah has the most number of rooms cancelled in Malaysia, he said.

“We even overtaking Kuala Lumpur and Selangor with almost 30,000 rooms with an earning potential of over 10 million ringgits from Jan 22 till Feb 29,” he added.

Besides that, he said tour operators and tourist guides are also struggling to get business and assignment.

“Souvenir shops and seafood restaurants are very badly hit with sales dipped by 80 to 90 percent according to these operators,” Chan said.

Even potential new hotels and resorts investors have thrown caution into the wind on the town of Semporna and other parts of Sabah, he said.

He urged all the stakeholders to come up with a new action plan to address this critical situation immediately as there is no medical solution within the next few months and the recovery plan after that.

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