India travel agents explore Sabah as new market

Jonistion (third, left) mingles with the Indian travel agents.

KOTA KINABALU/Sept 24: A group of 32 travel agents from India has embarked on a four-day familiarisation tour to Sabah from Sept 23-26.

The group who was part of the 543 members of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) arrived here on Friday after attending the TAFI Conference held in Kuching, Sarawak.

Led by Western India Chapter of TAFI Chairman Jitul Mehta, the group has chosen Sabah as their post-conference excursion to explore the state as their new destination market.

The Sabah Tourism Board hosted a welcoming dinner to the visiting guests at a hotel here on Friday.

Sabah Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said Indian market has always been part of Sabah Tourism Board’s target.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the arrivals of Indian’s tourists to Sabah was gradually picking up from 5,606 people in 2018, to 6,548 people the following year.

It was noted that Indian tourists love the beaches, islands, resorts, diving, wildlife and cultures.

Joniston said Sabah also hope to lure Indian filmmakers to the state which is a very sought after destination for producing documentaries.

Joniston said Indian tourists can travel to Sabah via Singapore with 14 flights weekly to Kota Kinabalu while there are 23 flights weekly via Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, Mehta expressed hopeful the group’s visit to Sabah would be informative and enlightening as many members only heard or read about the state.

“We are optimistic that we could bring more Indian tourists to Sabah and perhaps, by working together, we might make direct flights a reality,” he said.-HS

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