KOTA KINABALU: Sabah recorded a 2.8% increase in domestic tourist arrivals in 2018, with 2.518 million visitors compared to 2.449 million the previous year, which state believes can be boosted further.
Based on a domestic outbound survey conducted in 2018, Sabah Tourism Board (STB) said there were many opportunities to increase domestic tourism to Sabah.
The survey found that approximately 209,000 visitors came to Sabah every month, and these visitors are connected by 442 weekly flights to Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Sandakan from nine Malaysian cities.
The survey conducted by STB's research division, revealed that the top five preferred holiday activities for domestic travellers were viewing natural scenery (71.1%), relaxing by the beach (54.4%), visiting local markets (54.4%), visiting famous landmarks (52%) and island hopping/snorkelling (41.5%).
"Sabah has all the right ingredients for a holiday destination catering to domestic travellers. Although the domestic market is our biggest market source, we believe that there are many who have never been to Sabah," said STB general manager Suzaini Sabdin Ghani.
The survey showed that those intending to visit Kota Kinabalu increased from 29.6% to 85.7%, Sandakan from 7.8% to 33% and Tawau from 6.3% to 23.1%.
Suzaini said STB plans to use the MATTA Fair in Kuala Lumpur from March 15 to 17 as a platform to explore opportunities to boost domestic visitors.
She said that Sabah is pushing community-based tourism especially to rural areas, as well as homestay and camping which have shown to be areas of interest among domestic travellers who prefer self-driving to travelling in groups.