SANDAKAN, Sabah, 16 August 2022: Sabah is participating in several travel-related events that are taking place in Australia to position the state as a desirable destination for Australians.

State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said Sabah and Australia have always had a positive connection with one another and have been working together to boost their respective tourism industries.

Joniston Bangkuai with Matt Keogh and Sabah Tourism Board chief executive officer Noredah Othman during a media interview at the Sandakan Memorial Park.

“It has long been a goal of the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) to increase Australian arrivals. We have always been conducting roadshows to pique Australians’ interest in travelling to Sabah.

“The STB team will soon be participating roadshow series organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Art, and Culture (MOTAC) in major cities of Australia to continue building awareness on Sabah as a destination,” he told reporters when attending a ceremony at the Sandakan Memorial Park here, on Monday.

He was referring to the Tourism Malaysia Oceania Roadshow that will take place from 21 to 26 August, visiting Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney in Australia.

Joniston, who chairs STB, was in Sandakan to represent Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor at the annual Sandakan Memorial Day service, which pays tribute to Australian and British servicemen who lost their lives in the death march during World War II. The service also honours unsung local heroes who gave their lives in service to allied troops. Present were Minister for Veterans’ Affairs of Australia and Minister for Defence Personnel Matt Keogh and his delegates; British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay; and Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Dr Justin Lee.

Joniston said the participation of the Australian ministerial delegation was evidence of the strong ties that exist between Sabah and Australia. He also affirmed that events such as the Sandakan Memorial Service would enhance the existing relationship between the two governments and help stimulate tourism-related activity.

Meanwhile, Keogh’s visit to Malaysia and Sabah, in particular, was his first official international engagement since taking office in June this year.
“I am grateful for the opportunity this visit has given me to discover more about common heritage and to explore better this fantastic part of Malaysia, its culture and history,” he said.

On Sunday, Keogh and his delegates arrived in Sandakan for the memorial service and to explore the town’s tourist attractions. The Sandakan Municipal Council played host during their time in the city. Keogh praised Sabah for the incredible tourism opportunity it presented with attractions such as the Sandakan Memorial Park, as well as nature- and wildlife-based tourism, all of which would appeal to Australians.

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