KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is focusing on the natural attraction of the south-western Tawau district where tourism players have been urged to upgrade their facilities and services in anticipation of an influx of tourists from China during the Chinese New Year holidays next year.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said that encouraging Tawau’s tourism capacity was part of the state’s efforts to tap the huge tourism market from China.
“For now, we have to make do with our existing services and facilities pending construction of new hotels or resorts but what we have now must improve to cater to the increase in Chinese tourists,” said Liew, who is state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.
She said this after a briefing by Mega Borneo Holidays Sdn Bhd general manager Edward Chua who presented his Tawau Tourism Promotion and Investment Plan, to take advantage of the peak season.
Liew, who is also Tawau MP, said that the district needs a five-star hotel and called for potential investors to consider the south western Sabah district which is an hour away from Semporna and borders Kalimantan.
Liew said based on the proposal by Mega Borneo Holidays, there would be charter flights from China to Tawau every five days with a capacity of 160 passengers per flight during the Chinese New Year season.
The flights will be operated by Air Macau, taking off from Macau and flying to Shenzhen en route to Tawau.
“Going by this route, Air Macau will ferry tourists from Hong Kong,
Macau, Zhuhai and Shenzhen for the Tawau destination,” she said, adding that they had been planning this for three months and a decision would be made based on the response.
She hoped that Immigration would also open more clearance counters for the convenience of the tourists.
Liew also said that the Tawau Hills Park with the 88.32m world’s tallest tropical rainforest tree (Seraya Kuning Siput) and also the hotsprings, could become major attractions.
Mega Borneo Holidays are offering a five-day Tawau tour package for Chinese New Year holiday-makers including a tour of Roach Reef Island, viewing the swiftlets at the Madai Caves (Kunak) and a day trip to Semporna to visit the Tun Sakaran Marine Park.