The Sabah and Labuan Chapter of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) welcomed the State Government’s efforts to elevate Sabah’s tourism industry.
With AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes’ announcement of direct international flights to the State’s east coast by early next year, the MAH Sabah and Labuan Chapter is looking forward to getting more businesses.
The announcement came as a morale booster to hoteliers, especially in view of the not-so-encouraging hotel occupancy rate compared to previous years, which recorded an average of between 70 and 75 per cent occupancy.
MAH Sabah and Labuan Chapter Chairman, Gordon Seet (pic), said by bringing in more flights and getting different geographical markets like Korea, Europe and Australia, in addition to China, more tourists will be encouraged to visit Sabah.
He is confident that tourism in the State’s east coast, particularly Sandakan, which has suffered a dent due to security incidents over the past years, will pick up and boom again like before.
He also noted an increase in hotels in the State Capital which provides some confidence that business will grow and that tourists will continue to arrive, particularly with the soon-to-be completed Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC).
“The SICC will definitely bring more Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (Mice) groups here instead of to other destinations like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or even Korea. It will help us increase arrivals,” he said.
He said they are looking forward to seeing what other efforts the State Government has in the pipelines for hoteliers and travel agencies to further improve their business.
It is understood that several hotels are being planned for Sabah, among them, Pullman, Holiday Inn Express, Jen Hotel, Hyatt Centric, KK Resort City, Crowne Plaza, Citadines and Club Med Kuala Penyu, etc.
It is noted that some of the hotels have very modern designs, with Seet citing Toojou in Bandaran as a very interesting hotel to go to.
“There are many hotels like Hyatt Centric which are also going to open the same way, catering to the younger group, the millennials,” he said.
He also noted that the existence of AirBnB has affected hotel occupancy rates, especially four-star and below, as it comes at a very competitive price.
He said MAH does not restrict AirBnB and is not against that kind of business, but hopes the Government will look into regulating such businesses.
“By not regulating AirBnB business, the Government loses out in corporate tax, tourism tax, other revenue opportunities and also employment,” he said.
On another note, Gordon said the MAH Sabah and Labuan Chapter has close to a thousand members.
He said while the number of three-star to five-star hotels are plenty, there are still many hotels that have yet to register with MAH.
“We are trying to move forward to get them to become members. At least by doing so, we can share statistics and work as one voice with all the hotels together,” he said.