AWARD..... Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun (centre) accompanied by CEO MASWINGS Captain Nawawi Awang (right) posing for a group photo with the award recipients.
By : FIZAH YUSOF
MINISTER of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun revealed that international tourist arrivals to Sabah increased by five per cent in the first three months compared to the same period in the previous year.
“This is a phenomenal growth. We are now ready to bounce back and seize new opportunities after the unfortunate Lahad Datu incident that caused a slight dip in the number of tourists to Sabah,” he said to reporters at MASwings Top Travel Agent Awards at Magellan Sutera Harbour on Thursday.
Masidi said despite the Lahad Datu incident the number of tourists to Sabah between January and March this year was 718,626 as compared to 684,546 during the same period last year.
“Despite the terrorist intrusion in Lahad Datu, tourist arrivals were not significantly affected because there is close cooperation between the government and the tourism industry players,” he said.
He also disclosed that the number of international tourists from China and Hong Kong made up 79.2 per cent, the highest of the tourist arrivals. South Korea came second with 41.3 per cent, followed by Japan with 20.9 per cent, Singapore 20.8 per cent, Australia 14 per cent, United Kingdom and Netherlands 12.8 per cent and neighbouring Brunei 15 per cent.
Meanwhile, in same development, MASwings gave out awards to 19 of Sabah and Sarawak based travel agents at its 'Top Agent Awards 2012' on Thursday night at Magellan Sutera Harbour. The awards were presented in recognition of the travel agents' support and services to MASwings in 2012.
Speaking at the awards presentation function, Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment praised the travel agents for their continued support for MASwings and their contribution to Sabah’s touism industry. He said that travel agents are among the most important and effective channels to draw customers.
" I am aware that MASwings’ earnings from the travelling public in Sabah and Sarawak are growing steadily , which I believe is also the result of the strong relationship that MASwings has built up with the agents," he said.
Masidi said as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, MASwings plays a dominant role in shaping the future of the tourism industry in the region.
"I am pleased to see that MASwings has become a favourite community airline in this region since its inception in 2007. With its number of passengers on the rise, 1.6 million passenger last year; I am sure the number will surpass the target of 2 million passengers this year," he said.
Masidi said he believes that the future of tourism industry relies on travel and tour agents working together with the airlines and other industry players to create innovative products to promote Sabah to the rest of the world.
"It is my hope that MASwings will increase its flight frequencies to popular destinations in Sabah and Sarawak and expand further to other destinations within the BIMP EAGA region," he said.
According to Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang, MASwings Chief Executive Officer, the travel trade sales volume contributed between 35 to 45 per cent of MASwings entire annual sales.
"The sales have been on an uptrend and our travel-agent distribution is the most effective distribution channel for MASwings," he said.
Captain Nawawi also said that he expects MASwings to achieve a sales revenue of over RM500 million in 2013.
"We also aim to retain our record as the best on-time airline in Malaysia, even surpassing our best achievement of 94 per cent OPT recorded last year," he said.
He also announced that MASwings will accept delivery of three new Viking Twin Otters DHC-600 and 72- seater ATR72-600 by August this year. Three more leased aircraft will join the service to provide more frequencies and seat capacities for flights between Kota Kinabalu and Kuching and other secondary destinations such as Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Labuan, Tawau and Sandakan. (Insight Sabah)