SANDAKAN: Sabah recorded a total of 988,680 domestic and international tourist arrivals in the first five months of this year, a 77.1% increase from the 558,169 visitors in the same period last year, according to Sabah chief minister Hajiji Noor.
He said this clearly demonstrates that the tourism sector in Sabah will continue to develop strongly this year and in the years to come.
“The state government will continue to strive to revitalise and develop the tourism sector through various programmes this year. The re-opening of the country’s borders (after the lockdown for Covid-19) has had a positive impact and encouraged the recovery of the tourism sector in Sabah.
“Of the 988,680 tourists who visited Sabah, 282,450 were international tourists and 706,230 were locals, generating an estimated RM2.02 billion in tourism receipts from January to May 2023,” he said in his speech at the launch of the Sandakan Festival 2023 at Padang Bandaran Sandakan here last night.
The text of his speech was read by Sabah deputy chief minister I Jeffrey Kitingan, who is also the state agriculture, fisheries and food industry minister.
Hajiji said the state government is anticipating the arrival of 2.2 million tourists to Sabah this year, which will generate RM4.1 billion in revenue.
He added that as such, the state government is committed to promoting various inclusive tourism initiatives and programmes in an effort to make Sabah the most attractive tourist destination in Malaysia for both domestic and international visitors.
On the Sandakan Festival 2023, Hajiji said it was part of the efforts by the state government to attract tourists back to Sabah in the aftermath of the global Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020.
He said, the strong support from the state tourism, culture and environment ministry and the Sabah Tourism Board, demonstrates the state government’s commitment to reviving the tourism industry in the state.