With greater demand, there can only be two solutions: greater supply, or greater price hikes. In the case of Kota Kinabalu, they've gone with the latter - so much so that the hotels there are now the most expensive in Malaysia!
Last year, Sabah set a new record for being the Malaysian state with the most number of foreign visitors, as it received 3.8 million tourists in total. This has left many hotels in Kota Kinabalu unable to keep up with the demand, forcing them to hike up prices instead.
In fact, in March alone, most of these hotels were at 80% occupancy rate, thanks in part to tourists from China who flock to the West Coast and Semporna. Sin Chew reported that this has led to hotels mainly in the 4- to 5-star range to hike up their prices by 10 to 15%. Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) Datuk Seri Winston Liaw has said that during peak seasons, a night at one of the city's more luxurious hotels could cost more than RM1,200.
Apart from tourist demand, human resource is also one of the key factors in the price hike. According to a staff from one of the city's 4-star hotels, the adjustments also reflect the increase in the minimum wage and shortage of manpower. "We encourage the public to make their bookings online, as they'll get lower rates that way," he said.
To address this issue, Sabah's Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said that the ministry is taking active steps to lure in potential investors for the local hospitality industry. "In the coming years, Kota Kinabalu will see several big names in the hotel industry set up establishments here, and construction has even started on some of these hotels already, while others are still in the planning stages," she said.
At the same time, Datuk Seri Winston Liaw hopes the government can legalise Airbnb, so that it can become an alternative means of resolving the shortage of accommodation. "In the long run, it could also fuel the development of the local property sector, attracting more people to purchase apartment residences for investment purposes," he added.