KOTA KINABALU, 20 February 2017: Sabah’s report card for tourist arrivals in 2016 showed an overall 7.9% increase compared to 2015.
The East Malaysia state attracted 3.427 million visitors, surpassing the ‘best year in tourism’ achieved in 2013 (3.383 million).
This is an estimated RM7.25 billion generated in tourism receipts, or an extra 10% contribution to the state economy, according to Sabah Tourism.
This was followed by South Korea +42.5% (197,945) and Taiwan +35.0% (55,442). Other arrivals with positive growth were Australia (up 8.7% or 30,139), Brunei (+8.2% or 91,923) and UK & Ireland (+7% or 35,901).
Visitors from China made up a third (33.2%) of the overall market share in 2016, a growth compared to previous year, 2015, which had a market share of 25.2%. Korea had the second largest market share (17.9%), followed by Brunei (8.1%), Taiwan (4.9%), and UK and Ireland (3.2%).
There was a record 210 charter flights carrying 25,627 passengers from China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. This was a threefold increase compared to 2015, of only 76 charter flights.
Last year, four airlines commenced new direct flights into Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) namely from Wuhan (AirAsia), Shenzhen and Shanghai (Spring Airlines), Busan (Eastar Jet) and Guangzhou (China Southern Airlines). There are 16 international direct flights into KKIA by 13 foreign airlines.
Sea ports in the State capital as well as Sandakan and Tawau also received cruise passengers from a total of 37 cruise and military ships or 33,039 international passengers and crew.
“This latest report is a result of years of partnership with the private sector, working with the correct partners, aggressively putting Sabah as top-of-the-mind destination as well as embracing digital marketing,” said State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manj.
“I am pleased that the momentum has continued until early this year with direct flights from Fuzhou by Xiamen Airlines and Taipei by Malindo Air. As domestic tourists remain an important contributor for us, we will also still continue working with international partners and local stakeholders.”