A group of tourism players from Uzbekistan spent a week exploring the attractions on the west coast of Sabah.
One of the delegates, Travel Time Director Elena Chernisheva, expressed great satisfaction with the experience.
“This place is truly amazing, especially the islands, which look like the famous Maldives but with a more unique feature due to the lush greenery,” said Elena after visiting Mantanani Island, where she enjoyed various water activities.
“We are eager to share this beautiful destination with our fellow countrymen and plan to promote Sabah a newest destination,” added Elena, whose delegation was led by Malaysia-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce Vice-President Dilsod Elmuradov.
According to Elena, Uzbekistan’s holiday periods usually occur during the New Year and once every three months during school breaks.
“The New Year holiday lasts for seven to 10 days. Uzbeks usually travel during the summer and winter months. This presents an opportunity for many, including housewives seeking to escape the winter and explore warmer countries,” she explained.
Traditionally, Uzbeks tend to spend their holidays on Langkawi Island, Bali, and Thailand.
“However, now we aim to introduce Sabah as a new and exciting destination,” said Elena, who was introduced to Sabah at the recent Tashkent International Tourism Fair 2023 (TITF 2023) in Uzbekistan.
Sabah’s beautiful beaches and islands were presented by Funholiday’s Managing Director, Connie Chong, during a seminar titled “Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore – The Ultimate Beach Getaway.”
Following TITF 2023, the entourage from Uzbekistan, comprising travel agents, businessmen, a television station, and a social media influencer, came to explore and inspect the attractions and facilities in Sabah, said Connie.
“For the Uzbeks who live in a landlocked country, seeing the islands and seas is like paradise. Besides enjoying diving and snorkeling on Mantanani Island, they have also requested to organise a fishing trip.
“They want to catch fish and cook it immediately to enjoy our fresh seafood,” said Connie, adding that the entourage also went on a river cruise excursion on the Klias River to see the proboscis monkeys and a city tour.
They also stayed and inspected two luxury resorts—Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai and Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort—which have private beaches.
Borneo Wonders Holiday General Manager John Chin, who hosted the Uzbek guests on a day trip to Ria Mantanani, said this is the first time the island welcomed visitors from Central Asia.
“Our markets are traditionally from South Korea, China, and Peninsular Malaysia, and now we are thrilled to add Uzbekistan to our list.
“The arrival of Uzbek tourists allows Sabah to diversify its market and increase awareness. Many people were unfamiliar with Sabah until now. With active promotion by travel agents, the name “Borneo” is becoming well-known,” said John.