Speaking to The Brunei Times yesterday, Datuk Sari Suhut, deputy chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board, said that in previous years Sabah attracted as many as 2.91 million visitors, and this year a total of 2.7 million visitors are expected to enter the state.
"Majority of Bruneian tourists are shoppers," said the deputy chairman who added that shopping in Sabah is among its pull factors to Bruneian tourists.
Hamzilah Sulaiman, the board's assistant marketing manager, said electrical goods in Sabah are cheap, and the place offers more variety of goods to purchase with the many malls that have been established.
"Most of the Bruneians whom I have spoken to have expressed their keen interest to travel to Sabah for shopping and eating seafood," she said.
In 2005, Sabah raked in a total of RM2 billion, and with the increase of visitor arrivals last year, revenues are expected to accumulate up to RM2.2 billion, Datuk Sari said.
"Tourism is an important industry that creates revenue and (contributes to) GDP, as well as increases employment, and spin-off businesses," Datuk Sari said.
"Response of tourism from Sabahans is good, they welcome the tourists. Through the invitation of qualified speakers to speak in roadshows in districts, schools, and the frontliners of tourism it is important that the message on the impact of tourism is put across. Tourism is the second highest-revenue generator in Sabah."
Sabah has benefitted from the tourism boom through the improvement of infrastructures, investments from private sectors to develop malls, the establishment of hotels, and the expansion of the airport, said Humphrey Ginibun, marketing manager of the Sabah Tourism Board.
The accessibility of Sabah from Brunei used to be a challenge, but the board is now working with airlines on the frequency of flights between Sabah and Brunei. The number of flights has increased to 15 per week, and now Sabah's airport is the second busiest airport in Malaysia.
This can be an opportunity between the two to develop a package for tourists, said Datuk Sari.
"In our promotions, we (the board) are also helping promote Brunei," he said. "A suggestion would be for Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak to work together to promote Borneo. Through this joint promotion, a Borneo package may be introduced which can promote Brunei's attractions which include its golf courses and Jerudong Park."
With the growth of tourism, and the increase in the developments of infrastructures, the environment must also be taken into consideration said the deputy chairman.
Sabah Tourism Board's Consumer Travel Fair in The Mall, Gadong was launched yesterday to further attract Bruneian tourists and provide the latest information on its tourism products.
The Brunei Times