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Sabah picked as Malaysia's favourite destination at MATTA Fair

The Star Online • ASR: RM3,853.00

KUALA LUMPUR: Sabah is honoured to be selected "Malaysia's Favourite Destination" at the 47th edition of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair 2019.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said that the MATTA Fair 2019 was a great opportunity for Sabah to be promoted as a world-class premier eco-tourism destination.

He said this was in line with the state's target of hitting four million tourist arrivals in 2019, comprising 2.57 million domestic travellers and the rest from overseas.

"In 2018, Sabah tourism set a new record with the highest tourism receipts ever at RM8.34bil on the back of a record-high 3.879 million arrivals, an increase of 6.6% in tourism receipts and a 5.3% increase in arrivals compared to 2017," he said at the opening of the MATTA Fair 2019 at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here Saturday (March 16).



"I am glad to see that Sabah tourism has been proactive in implementing new products, enhanced services and productivity improvement. The state government will continue to support in transformation efforts.

"We are also constantly reviewing our tourism strategies to see how we can further enhance Sabah's attractiveness as a destination for different groups of visitors.

"We will continue to work hard and look for areas where we can improve and do even better," he said in his speech read by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew, who is also state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.

Shafie said that in a highly competitive global tourism market, "we need to offer attractive reasons for tourists to visit Sabah, and to return for subsequent visits after their initial experience in Sabah."

He reiterated that the Sabah government remains committed to growing its tourism sector to create economic opportunities for businesses and generate jobs for locals.

"While the road ahead is not without its challenges, our passion gives us the courage to come up with ambitious plans and the resilience to take risks and sustain our journey," he said.

Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Ken Pan Ying led a delegation of 30 co-exhibitors comprising 25 tour operators, two dive operators, two hotels and one hotel association.

STB's 16 booths showcased the state's tourism products under the Sabah Pavilion ranging from heritage and culture, scenic island visits, scuba diving, jungle trekking, bird watching to adventure and other attractions that are top notch and considered to be good value for money.

One of the highlights of the fair was the introduction of "Cuti-Cuti Tawau" to promote tourism in the east coast of Sabah, taking visitors and tourists beyond the already popular Kota Kinabalu on the west coast.

Tawau is the gateway to the eastern part of the state where the towns of Semporna, Lahad Datu and Sandakan are located.