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Monday, March 13, 2017
More Chinese flights to Sabah expected with Sandakan Airport runway extension
The recent announcement by Malaysian prime
minister Najib Abdul Razak that Sabah’s Sandakan Airport runway will be
extended to handle both direct and chartered flights from China has been met
with positive reception from the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel
MATTA’s vice president for inbound and
domestic, KL Tan, said: “Increased tourists arrivals will boost the economy.
There were 183 charter flights from China to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah’s state
capital) in 2016 but none directly to Sandakan."
Tan believes that Sandakan's food and culture
will appeal to Chinese tourists as the market is now more “mature and want to
experience authenticity and nature”.
He indicated that there has been more
enquires to eco-attractions like Turtle Island Borneo, Sepilok Orang Utan
Rehabilitation Centre and Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
But for Sandakan to be able to cater to the
influx of Chinese tourists, Tan urged stakeholders to work faster to ensure
there are enough F&B outlets, hotels and attractions. As well,
Mandarin-speaking guides and an efficient transportation system are also
glaring setback for Sandakan is the lack of proper beaches for tourists to
enjoy watersport activities. But it will ease the lack of accommodation for
Chinese tourists to Kota Kinabalu during the peak season, and we certainly
welcome a more balanced spread of Chinese tourists to other towns in Sabah,”