Tourist arrivals to Sabah grew about 10 per cent between 2015 and 2016, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun revealed.
He said arrivals grow from 3.176 million in 2015 to 3.427 million last year, and these figures came from the immigration authorities in Malaysia, Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd and airlines such as AirAsia.
The figures showed that Sabah was a must-visit destination among tourists, he said when officiating Rhythms of Kinabalu @ Ranau at the tamu grounds on Saturday evening (9 September).
His speech was delivered by his assistant Datuk Kamarlin Hj Ombi. The event was organized by the Department of Culture and Arts in collaboration with the State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
Masidi said the state government will continue developing the tourism industry by introducing more tourism products especially those from the rural areas. One such effort is the Sabah Rural Tourism Roadshow which was launched in August 2017.
"Environment-based tourism products have been drawing tourists and we are looking forward to growth in the supporting businesses such as transportation, accommodation, food and others.
"The presence of the tourists has also indirectly contributed to improvements in elements of our lifestyle. We hope that elements of our culture will be able to draw more tourists to Sabah.â€
Masidi, who is also the state assemblyman of Karanaan, said Sabah's natural attraction - being located on the third largest island in the world (Borneo) and being the second largest state in Malaysia (with 72,500 square kilometres) are attractive.
"Therefore picking Ranau for this event is the right decision because Ranau is known as an attractive destination by domestic and overseas tourists, being home to Kinabalu the World Heritage Site.â€
Ranau is also home to Desa Cattle (sometimes described as Little New Zealand), Poring Hot Springs, Tagal Luanti, Rabbit Village, Sabah Tea and the mythical Nunuk Ragang, where the Kadazandusun community was said to have originated.
The Rhythms of Kinabalu @ Ranau event was the first to be organized under the National Blue Ocean Strategy to showcase Ranau's community and tourism attractions.