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Sabah sees 10% increase in tourist arrivals this year

 | September 14, 2017

Minister says Singaporean tourists are the surprise addition to this year's numbers.

masido-touristKOTA KINABALU: Sabah saw a 10% increase in tourist arrivals in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period last year, generating RM4.092 billion in tourism receipts.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said more than two million domestic and international tourists had come to Sabah.

Of these, he noted a 50.8% increase in arrivals from South Korea, 15.2% increase from Taiwan, 14.5% increase from China and a surprising 8.2% increase from Singapore.

“This spike in Singaporean arrivals is unexpected and, we can consider, something new because we don’t normally receive a lot of Singaporeans visiting Sabah,” he said after launching the Sabah Tourism Enforcement Issues seminar here today.

The numbers are still short of last year’s best record of RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts as Sabah welcomed 3.43 million tourists.

However, Masidi said the statistics showed promising growth which could easily surpass last year’s record, making this the best year ever for Sabah’s tourism industry.

Commenting on the protest by local tour guides at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in July over the alleged use of unlicensed foreign tour guides, Masidi said it was still possible for the culprits to lose their tour guide licences.

“Maybe. Maybe their licences will be revoked. But that will depend on the gravity of their actions. All of those who were involved have handed in their show-cause letters and forwarded them to the tourism and culture ministry (Motac).

“Some of them were there because they were misled by a message spread via WhatsApp. That’s what they claimed,” he said.

In terms of healthy competition among industry players, he urged Motac to look into the problem of tour operators and tour guides collecting commissions, which is an unlawful act in the country.

Currently, he said, there are 700 tour companies operating in Sabah and the number is increasing.

Of these, it was revealed that 23 are operating without premises. Motac Sabah director Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar said his office would take appropriate action against these offenders such as cancelling their operations.

“About a month ago, we managed to catch one illegal tour operator who was actively offering services to unsuspecting tourists in Sabah.

“The suspect was found operating the business from a house in Marina Court, Kota Kinabalu. So far, we found two licensed tour vans leased to them and we are still investigating whether there are more legal tour companies cooperating with them,” he said.

He said the illegal operator had been masquerading as a legal business, complete with licensed tour guides to accompany customers.

Zaki warned legal tour operators not to collaborate with unlicensed operators, saying the ministry would not hesitate to suspend or revoke their licences if they were found guilty.

He added that the ministry would immediately cancel the permits for the two vans rented by the illegal tour operator.

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