More Australian tourists can be expected to arrive in Sabah via Brunei, following an initiative between the Sabah Tourism Board and the oil-rich sultanate's national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA).
A Memorandum of Cooperation signed between Sabah Tourism and RBA, signed on Monday is a first for tourism development between two countries, according to the airline.
As part of the cooperation, the two parties agreed to cost share the promotional activities that will centre around stimulating the increase of Australian tourists into Brunei Darussalam and Sabah. This will boost the State's economy overtime.
"Selected Australian travel agents will also be appointed to sell special packages within a time frame, to attend the Sandakan Day Memorial Service in Sabah in mid-August" said Datuk Masidi Manjun, Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment who witnessed the signing.
This package includes a dedicated Return and Services Leagues.
"STB have worked with RBA before on several joint promotions be it for Australian market or long haul like UK markets, therefore this MoU will further intensify and cement our working relationship for future mutual benefits" said Masidi.
"Brunei is our closest neighbour and was one of our top international arrivals into Sabah last year. Some of our long-haul arrivals, particularly from Australia, traditionally use the Melbourne - Kota Kinabalu route, a connection they have been enjoying for the past few years.
"We are seeing positive results from fresh strategies and new marketing approach, continued awareness in the correct platform combined with the convenient air accessibility by RBA, that arrivals from Australia last year increased by +8.7 compared to 2015.
"It is only right that we embark on this MOC right now to further develop this market segment for both countries. On behalf of the State Government, I wish to congratulate both parties on this historical partnership" Masidi added.
The memorandum, which aims to develop joint promotional activities for the inflow of tourists from Melbourne into Borneo, was signed by RBA Executive General Manager Mr Brett McDougall and the General Manager of STB, Gordon Yapp.