“Well done! Sabah will witness a vibrant growth of domestic tourism this year,” she said. The co-exhibitors comprised 25 tour operators, two dive operators, two hotels and one hotel association. Liew, who is also State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, launched the event on behalf of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal in Kuala Lumpur. The Fair ended last Sunday.She noted that Sabah ranked Top 5 of the Most Visited States in Malaysia with a record-high 3.879 million arrivals in 2018. “In fact, Kota Kinabalu ranked Number 9th in the Top Destinations for Asian Travellers during the recent Lunar New Year,” she said.According to the Department of Statistics, Sabah ranked 4th in the Top States of Domestic Visitors with 17.8 million domestic visitor arrivals in 2017.
Sabah recorded a 2.8pc increase in domestic tourist arrivals in 2018 with 2.518 million visitors compared with 2.449 million the previous year which means about 209,000 visitors came to Sabah every month.There are 444 flights connecting Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Labuan to Sabah with a seating capacity of about 75,000 weekly.Meanwhile, Tan pointed out that the airfare for travel within Malaysia, especially from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah and Sarawak, is a disadvantage to domestic tourism compared with overseas destinations such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.“For example, a one-way trip from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu averages from RM300 to RM500 while a one-way trip from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta costs between RM170 and RM300 in the same period.“Similarly, a one-way trip from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching averagely costs from RM260 to RM700 for March 2019 period while a one-way trip from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok costs between RM170 and RM300 in the same period,” he said, adding that cost-conscious Malaysian travellers will opt for international holiday destinations.
Tan urged the Government and airline operators to look into this matter to inspire more Malaysians to travel in the country and take Malaysia’s tourism industry to greater heights.