KOTA KINABALU, April 12 (Bernama) -- Sabah recorded its best ever visitor arrival last year, totaling 3,427,908.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun told the State Legislative Assembly today that the number exceeded the 3,383,243 recorded in 2013.
"Visitor arrival last year contributed about RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts, which was an increase of 9.5 per cent, compared to 2015," he said while winding up the debate on his ministry.
He said to achieve its target of a further increase of four per cent this year, the ministry had turned its focus on certain aspects such as empowering the administration of the marine parks, particularly Tun Mustapha Marine Park.
The aim is to reach a standard acknowledged by international bodies such as that accorded to ASEAN Heritage Park.
"Aside from that, the Sabah Ethnic Culture Inventory Studies and Registration as well as ethnic intellectual property certification would be emphasised and to date, 14 have been registered and certified.
"This is to preserve the cultural heritage of the respective ethnic groups," he said.
Masidi said efforts towards gazetting historical sites such as Batu Tulug in Kinabatangan, Agnes Keith in Sandakan and archaeological museum at Bukit Tengkorak in Semporna as historical tourism products would be intensified.
He added that historical tourism products that had already been proposed for gazetting under the Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Enactment 1997 were the Melalap train station in Tenom, old RTM building, Turnbull Hall at Sabah College and the Mat Salleh and Mat Sator warriors fort.
Meanwhile, he said various challenges including the catamaran incident off Pulau Mangalum recently did not affect tourist arrival as there had not been any cancellation of flights and packages.