KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is seeing a dip in Japanese tourist arrivals due to a travel advisory by the Japanese government to avoid the east coast Sabah for security reasons.
However, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said there were many places in Sabah that Japanese tourists could visit without having to go to so-called security risk areas in the east coast.
Japanese tourists could consider the west coast and interior Sabah as safe options, she said.
Liew, who is on a visit to Japan to promote Sabah as a tourist destination, said she would discuss with Japanese officials in Malaysia to explain the other options for tourists.
"There was a decline in the number of Japanese tourist arrivals to Sabah following the issuance of the travel advisory previously.
"Pending the revocation of the travel advisory, Japanese tourists are welcome to visit the west coast and interior of Sabah as these are considered safe places," she told Japan's tourism authorities during a visit to Kyoto.
She said community tourism-based products in interior Sabah were gaining popularity among tourists wanting to enjoy nature.
"Nature tourism and wildlife conservation tourism are very popular in Sabah," she said, adding that wildlife attractions like the Pygmy elephant, orang utan, proboscis monkey and sunbear had drawn many European and Chinese tourists to the state.
Liew said this in a statement made available here Friday (March 1) after meeting with the director director-general for Tourism Policy, Kyoto Prefecture, Minamimoto Hisash.
Hisash informed her that Japan's travel advisory to its citizens against visiting east coast Sabah woul remain until it decided otherwise.
He said the travel advisory was issued by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) was based on information received from the Sabah side.
Liew is leading a seven-member delegation from her ministry and officials from Sabah Tourism Board (STB) on a three-day official visit to Osaka and Kyoto.