KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government hopes to achieve its target of four million tourist arrivals this year, up from the 3.8 million for 2018, Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin said.
He said the government is targeting more balanced tourist arrivals from China, Europe, the United States and the countries in Oceania.
“To achieve the target, the government will strive to enhance air accessibility to Sabah and diversify the tourism products of the state, especially in the rural areas and the east coast,” he said.
Juhar delivered the policy speech when opening the first meeting of the second session of the current Sabah Legislative Assembly.
He said the Sabah Government is also committed to ensuring that the tourism sector in the state remains vibrant and competitive by focusing on the beauty of nature and cultural heritage as the major tourism assets.
He said that in line with this and the desire of the government to preserve the natural environment and boost eco-tourism, efforts are being taken to declare Mount Kinabalu and its surroundings, comprising the districts of Ranau, Kota Belud and Kota Marudu, as a National Geopark this year.
“The area will be promoted to be a Unesco Global Geopark site by 2020.
“Additionally, the government is also in the process of gazetting the Darvel Bay in Lahad Datu and Mantanani Island in Kota Belud as marine conservation areas,” he said.
Juhar said that the government is committed to developing the manufacturing sector that has the potential to boost the economy of the state, as well as sectors such as tourism, agriculture and mining.“The government will maintain the policy banning the export of logs to stimulate the timber-based downstream industries such as furniture-making and provide more jobs.
“This measure will directly help local manufacturers to generate economic opportunities and enjoy the multiplier effects of the local timber industry. The government has also identified an area in the Sandakan Palm Oil Industry Cluster (POIC) as a furniture manufacturing hub for Sabah,” he said.Juhar said the government
will strive to spur high-value downstream activities in the state, especially in the downstream oil and gas industry in the Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park (SOGIP) and the Lahad Datu POIC. – Bernama