KOTA KINABALU: Semporna should be aggressively promoted as a tourism destination, says Datuk Christina Liew.
The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister said given its geographical position, the state needs to aggressively promote Semporna as a tourism hotspot in the national and international arenas.
Speaking at the closing of the 28th Regatta Lepa Semporna on Saturday (Nov 18) night, Liew then added that the government must upgrade basic facilities such as water and electricity supply in Semporna, among other things.
“Upgrades are needed to the road infrastructure leading to the district from Tawau, not forgetting the need to beef up security for the safety of both domestic and international tourists,” said Liew.
"We must showcase Semporna's unique culture to the world, characterised by exotic traditional costumes and dances,” she added.
Liew said it is important to boost travellers’ confidence in Semporna to lure more outside visitors to witness future regattas.
The event which took place on Nov 18 and 19 is a water festival that pays tribute to the nomadic community of Bajau Laut, with a focus on activities surrounding their traditional “lepa” boats.
Liew said the various concerns about safety and lack of quality facilities in Semporna will be raised to the state and federal governments.
"I will bring Semporna's pressing tourism needs to the attention of the Federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac), Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing," she said.
Meanwhile, she disclosed that as of September this year, Sabah has achieved 85% of the target to reach 2.2 million visitor arrivals for 2023.
Citing statistics from the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Statistics Division, Liew said from January to September this year, Sabah received a total of 1,883,794 visitor arrivals.
"This figure registered an increase of 58.2% against the same period from January to September 2022. This increase is attributed to improved air connectivity to Sabah and marketing campaigns by the STB," she said.