CM: More hotel rooms to cater for growing tourism trend

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KOTA KINABALU: An additional 2,053 rooms will soon be available, with seven new hotels coming on stream to add to the 685 existing hotels ranging from 5-star to budget hotels or lodges with a 26,822-room capacity in Sabah.

Disclosing this, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor said this development augured well for the state with statistics showing that Sabah continued to be a sought-after destination among tourists.

“Even as we speak, visitor arrivals continue to show strong growth in 2023. There were 1.4 million international and domestic arrivals from January to July.

“By this figure, Sabah is poised to achieve its target of 2.2 million visitors this year, which is a good sign and this has generated an estimated tourism receipt of RM2.9 billion (an increase of 99.7 per cent),” he said.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort’s 40th Ruby anniversary celebrations here on Monday night, Hajiji said it was encouraging to note that Sabah’s average hotel occupancy rate for the past six months this year was 52 per cent.

“I am told that on certain days some hotels reported full occupancy, especially during the holidays or when events were being held,” he said.

The Chief Minister said he was glad the hospitality industry had quickly recovered from the pandemic.

“We are optimistic moving forward and will take resolute measures to ensure we are on our feet and on track to implement our development plan, the Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya, in accordance with our aspirations to foster a Sabah that is united, prosperous and inclusive.

“And for that, I need all of you to be on the same page with me and the state government,” he pointed out.

And, Hajiji also said the state government saw much potential in community-based tourism (CoBT).

“We want to see this sector grow throughout the state so that more communities from the rural areas can benefit from the economic opportunities and spin-offs.

Community-based tourism has since been adopted in many districts in the state, creating a boon for adventure, culture and food tourism, among others.

“A branding initiative for community-based tourism by the Sabah Tourism Board will be done soon to take it to another level,” the Chief Minister said.

The state government, through the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, had allocated RM10 million to repair basic tourism infrastructure in the rural areas to encourage growth in community-based tourism.

According to Hajiji Sabah hoped to achieve 80 per cent ASEAN standard compliance target for community-based tourism in the state by 2030.

“This is towards empowering and enhancing the livelihood of the rural communities,” he said.

Meanwhile he said Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort has reached a significant milestone, sharing a journey of growth and transformation with Kota Kinabalu City over the years.

“It is important that Shangri-La continues to keep the values that have sustained you – a commitment to sustainability, a dedication to local communities, and a promise of exceptional hospitality.

“Today is your moment of pride as you reflect upon the enduring values that have made your hotel a symbol of excellence in the hospitality industry. Congratulations and well done!” Hajiji said.

Also present at the celebrations were Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, Tanjong Aru Hotels Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Edward Dagul, ICSB chairman Datuk Jasnih Daya and the resort’s general manager Conor Hadlington.

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