Korean tourists return to Sabah

KOTA KINABALU (May 27): Sabah welcomed the first batch of Korean tourists via Jin Air on Thursday night after more than two years since the pandemic.

The flight from Incheon had flown into Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) with full capacity, carrying 185 Korean visitors in total.

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar A/L Ramanaidu, Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Jafry Bin Ariffin and Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bin Bangkuai were present to welcome the visitors at the airport.

Jafry said Jin Air, which will commence direct flights to Kota Kinabalu twice weekly, is a good sign for the tourism industry.

“We expect more tourists to come to Sabah.”

He said Sabah used to receive 65 international flights from Korea to Kota Kinabalu before the pandemic.

“We are confident with the improving Covid-19 situation, tourist arrivals to Sabah will return to pre-pandemic level in 2019,” he said to the media.

Jafry added that AirAsia will commence its international flight from Manila to Kota Kinabalu tomorrow (May 27).

With that, he said there are currently four international flights to Kota Kinabalu, from Singapore, Brunei, Korea and Manila.

He said the ministry is working hard to bring more direct flights to Sabah.

“We look forward to having international flights from other destinations.

“We will cooperate with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) to increase tourist arrivals to Sabah, which in turn, will have spillover effects that benefit locals and tourism players.”

Meanwhile, Santhara said Motac always cooperates with its counterpart in Sabah to plan and promote tourism, including marketing efforts in Korea.

He said the ministry wants to organize cultural programmes to promote Sabah.

He said Sabah is an important market as 360,000, or more than half of the 600,000 Korean tourists who visited Malaysia in 2019 actually came to Sabah.

“This proved that Kota Kinabalu is an important destination to Koreans.”

Also present were Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah, Datuk Sr Haji Mohd Yusrie Abdullah and Sabah Tourism Board chief executive officer Noredah Othman.

Source: https://www.theborneopost.com/2022/05/27/korean-tourists-return-to-sabah/

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