KOTA KINABALU: South Korea’s Jin Air flight from Incheon to Kota Kinabalu landed here to mark the resumption of direct flights to Sabah since the reopening of borders in April.
The 185 passengers, including Jin Air branch manager Park Jeong Hoon, were warmly welcomed as they arrived at 9.30pm on Thursday.
Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin said the flight was a positive indicator that South Koreans were keen to visit the state.
“We are confident that with the improved Covid-19 situation, South Koreans would want to come here as they did in the past,” he added.
Prior to the pandemic lockdowns, there were 65 weekly flights from South Korean cities to Sabah.
“We hope that the situation will return to the pre-Covid-19 arrivals seen in Sabah.
“We are also looking forward to receiving tourists from other destinations,” said Jafry, who added that Sabah will work together with the federal tourism ministry to further boost visitor arrivals.
The South Korean carrier is the third foreign airline to resume direct flights to Kota Kinabalu after Singapore’s Scoot and Royal Brunei Airlines.
Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar, who was at the airport to greet the South Korean tourists, said his ministry would continue to collaborate with the Sabah Tourism Board to promote the state and its new products to the South Korean market.
“In 2019, we had over 600,000 Koreans visiting Malaysia, with about 390,000 of them making their way to Sabah. This is an indication that Kota Kinabalu is an essential destination.”