The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry targets to attract 40,000 Japanese tourists to Sabah this year.
Sabah is one of the 13 member states of Malaysia, and is its easternmost state. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwes
Its minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the number was seven per cent out of the targeted 600,000 tourists from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ to visit Malaysia in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014, which also coincides with the 57th anniversary of the Japan-Malaysia relationship.
“Over the years, many Japanese have visited Malaysia. But sadly, there was a decline in Japanese arrivals to Sabah, from 31,554 in 2011 to only 26,000 in 2012, due to the cancellation of Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Tokyo and Osaka.
“But due diligence by tour operators, such as H.I.S Travel and JTB Travel, in bringing Japanese tourists to Sabah via five charter flights — two flights from Fukuoka, two from Nagoya and one from Osaka — has increased the number of Japanese arrivals by 27.6 per cent or 27,992 last year,” he said in a statement here Tuesday.
Masidi was on an official visit to Tokyo recently.
He hoped the re-instatement of MAS’ direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Tokyo, at thrice weekly, would encourage more Japanese to visit Sabah and that MAS would bring back the Kota Kinabalu-Osaka flights.