Sabah looks elsewhere to make up tourism numbers after China travel ban

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 02 Feb 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will focus on bringing in tourists from other countries following the temporary travel ban on Chinese nationals, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic).

He said the state would focus on bringing in more European visitors to Sabah after the state recently imposed a temporary suspension on incoming flights from China following the novel coronavirus outbreak.

He said the move to focus on attracting visitors from other parts of the world had started last year and the response has been positive.

“We started inviting and attracting visitors from Istanbul (Turkey) and Germany last year and for 2020, we choose Russia for a start,” he said.

Shafie said it was important for the state to make sure that the tourism sector stays strong regardless of what is happening.

“We have to work with any economic activity we can,” he said, adding that it was vital to strengthen and boost domestic arrivals.

He said among the other efforts was to get more tourists from Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Chinese tourists who are still in Sabah are urged to contact their consulate here if they wish to return to their hometowns.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Christina Liew said a notice urging them to contact the Chinese consulate has been posted on the Sabah Tourism Board website.

“We will help and work closely with the Chinese consulate in Kota Kinabalu to facilitate the sending back of their nationals, and also in getting our citizens especially Sabahans back here,” she said when met after the Kota Kinabalu Journalist Association Chinese New Year luncheon here Sunday (Feb 2).

She said she sympathises with the Chinese tourists who are in Sabah and are not able to go home, adding that the state is working closely with China on the matter.

Liew said in her flight back to Kota Kinabalu from Tawau on Saturday (Feb 1), there were many Chinese tourists who were also in the same plane, on their way home.

“Chinese tourists who wish to stay longer could get an extension of their visa here if they pass all health and safety requirements,” she said.

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