Tan Sri Musa Haji Aman said it is his hope that more investors both from Malaysia and overseas will see the potential Sabah has to offer in terms of tourism and services.
The Chief Minister said there is also a need for investments in the services sector to expand to other parts of Sabah, beyond Kota Kinabalu, as tourism and trade are also important in some of the other major towns and districts.
"Tourism will continue to feature as part of Sabah's economic development. And, with our strong presence in the global tourism market, the government remains committed in further developing the sector along with private entities" he said at the official opening of Mercure Hotel Kota Kinabalu.
Sabah, he added, has a variety of tourism products that catered for the needs of tourists, from nature destinations to rich cultural heritage as well as a diversity of food and shopping options.
He said the state government was also taking steps to ensure that eco-tourism products remained sustainable and continued to attract travellers.
"We do this by focusing on sustainable and targetted development and with this areas of natural heritage are continuously protected" Musa said.
The Chief Minister added that efforts to market Sabah relied strongly on identifying and working with the right partners ranging from the private sector to tourism associations and the relevant international groupings.
"After many years of putting in the effort, we are now seeing results. Sabah made the right decision over a decade ago when we placed our focus on tourism as one of our engines of growth, and as outlined in the State Development Agenda.
"This was followed by the attention given by the federal government on tourism as outlined in the Sabah Development Corridor and Economic Transformation Programme.
"And, today we see spin offs from this sector, ranging from those who have become entrepreneurs by offering services including delivery of food items, to quality jobs that enhance skills of locals" he said.
Musa said there was also a rise in interest among airlines to offer direct flights from regional destinations into Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), due to strong market support and the availability of both hotels and quality services.
He recalled that just recently, the Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai was quoted as saying that there had been an increase in the number of tourist arrivals at KKIA.
Visitor arrivals at KKIA between January and August stood at 5.3 million compared to 4.7 million in the same period last year "and this is an impressive growthâ€.
"We welcome the Minister's statement that the Transport Ministry is prepared to engage more airlines to use KKIA to fly in more tourists to Sabah" he said
According to him, tourism in Sabah no doubt was a key driver in our expanding economy. Meanwhile, Musa said the state government welcomed Mercure, a well established hotel chain, and that its decision to set up business in Kota Kinabalu would complement the current and projected future economic growth which was partly dependent on the tourism and services sector.
"Your location in one of the older parts of this city has further transformed the face of Kota Kinabalu. "This second Mercure Hotel in Sabah after the one in 1Borneo hypermall is another milestone for your owners and a testimony of the confidence that investors have in Sabah" he said.
The Chief Minister added that apart from infrastructure development which the government provided, the state also needed complementary services such as hotels which should be of a certain standard.
"The entry of globally known names like Mercure in Sabah's landscape is welcomed and let me assure you that you have made the right decision to invest in Kota Kinabalu" Musa said, adding that at this new this new Mercure Hotel alone, some 150 jobs have been created.
Also present yesterday were Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun and his deputy Datuk Pang Yuk Ming; Malaysia's High Commissioner to Brunei, Datuk Ghulam Jelani Khanizaman; Brunei's consul general to Sabah Pengiran Hajah Nooriyah binti Pengiran Haji Yussof; Mercure Hotel owner Haji Musa Haji Adnin and general manager Jacques Leizerovici as well the chief operating officer of Accor Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore Garth Simmons.