TAWAU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment will work together with tourism players by introducing different kinds of packages as part of promoting Sabah as a tourism hub.
Its minister, Christina Liew Chin Jin, has targeted one million tourist arrivals to Sabah in the near future and will also be focusing on repeat-visitors.
Christina, who is also the Tawau member of Parliament and Api Api assemblywoman, said tourism is a big industry and there was a dire need to build a new market in Sabah by promoting the different ethnicities and cultures to the tourists.
She said the one million tourists would not only be from China, but also from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Europe, Australia and so on.
In fact, tourists from different countries might have their own style of vacation. For example, China tourists preferred packages of activities while European tourists preferred long stays and relaxation.
Thus, her ministry will look at the different categories of tourism and get feedback from the tourists, tourism players and complement agencies.
Christina also encouraged tourists not only to stop in Kota Kinabalu, but to expand their trip to other districts like Tawau, Sandakan and Kudat.
In respect of Tawau as a tourist transit point, she said it was important to work out different tourism packages to attract tourists staying overnight in Tawau before traveling to Semporna which can generate a spin-off for Tawau's economy. Furthermore, there are many kinds of delicious seafood in Tawau as well as many hotels and good transportation to accommodate the tourists.
In addition, her ministry will also discuss with the Tawau Municipal Council to build a cultural market in here, the location of which would be announced later. Each store in the market will be rented out to the local ethnic groups to sell their respective traditional products and souvenirs from Tawau to the tourists.
She said this in a press conference after having dinner with 120 tourists from Guang Dong, Southern China who were staying overnight in Tawau on Saturday after visiting the islands in Semporna.
Christina said it was the first ever big group coming to Tawau overnight and it was a good start. Meanwhile, there will be another 200 China tourists visiting Sabah on June 13.
She also commended the cleanliness of the toilet at Tawau airport and hoped it could be maintained from time to time. She also urged all airports in Sabah and island operators to keep their toilets and surroundings clean.