KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will focus on tourists from other countries apart from China in view of the novel coronavirus situation, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
He said they will look into attracting more European and Russian visitors.
This approach started last year and the response has been positive, he added.
“We started inviting visitors from Istanbul and Germany last year and for 2020 we choose Russia, ” he said.
Shafie said it is important for the state to make sure the tourism sector stays strong especially with the suspension of flights from China into Sabah following the outbreak.
He also spoke of efforts to get more tourists from Australia and New Zealand to visit Sabah.
Meanwhile, China tourists still in Sabah are urged to contact their consulate here to facilitate their return home.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the state will work closely with the Chinese consulate in here to facilitate the return of their nationals.
Speaking to reporters after attending the Kota Kinabalu Journalists Association’s Chinese New Year luncheon yesterday, Liew said on her flight back to Kota Kinabalu from Tawau on Saturday she saw many Chinese tourists on the same flight.
“They were on their way home, ” she added.
As for Chinese tourists who are in Sabah and wish to stay longer, she said they can get an extension of their visas if they pass all health and safety requirements.
Liew also said that tourism players should look at other products and targets because Chinese visitors made up only about 40% of arrivals here.
A meeting, she said, will be held with tourism players in Sabah to find ways to overcome these challenges.
“The first thing for Sabah is to stop (the spread of the virus) and then see what’s the next step to take, ” she said.