KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's economy appears set for robust growth as shown by the increasing number of tourist arrivals at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
The Transport Minister said visitor arrivals at KKIA between January and August this year stood at 5.3 million compared to 4.7 million in the same period last year.
"This is an increase of more than 13 per cent, double digit growth that is impressive by any measure," said Liow after opening the state MCA meeting here on Sunday.
He said his ministry was prepared to engage more airlines to use KKIA to fly in more tourists into the state.
The MCA president said that Sandakan airport was also being further upgraded to complement KKIA.
He said the Sandakan airport runway was being extended from the current 2.1km to 2.6km at a cost of RM80mil to enable it to accommodate wide bodied aircraft, such as the Boeing 777 or Airbus 330.
Liow said the Federal Government through his ministry was also doing everything possible to make Sepanggar port here more efficient as part of measures to reduce costs of goods in the state.
Also present at the launch was MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who said that the Federal Government was responsive to concerns of Sabahans such as scrapping the unpopular cabotage policy at the Sepanggar port.
He said the Sepangar port was set to become a more busy facility with the scrapping of the policy.
"Sepanggar is now essentially an open port and this will help drive Sabah's economy," Dr Wee added.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced the scrapping of the policy that limits the shipment of goods from the peninsular to Sabah and Sarawak to only Malaysian-flagged ships that took effect on June 1.
The 30-year-old policy that has been blamed for the higher costs of goods in Sabah has been scrapped.
However, the policy would still be applicable to cargo shipping operations within Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
He said the opposition had spoken out against policy when it was in place and then voiced their disagreement when it was being removed.
Dr Wee said Sabahans should be wary of the Opposition whose tactics were mainly to stir up the people's emotions.