Sabah looking into resuming direct flights to China, says state tourism board

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is looking into resuming direct flights with China following the country’s recent border opening, says Sabah Tourism Board (STB).

At present, the state already has direct connections with nine international destinations, namely Singapore, Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei Darussalam), Taipei, Hong Kong, Narita (Japan), Incheon, Busan (South Korea), Manila (Philippines) and Bangkok (Thailand), that were resumed post Covid-19 pandemic.

STB has also carried out promotional efforts in Europe and Scandinavian regions this year in efforts to make Sabah a more visible destination, said its chief executive officer Noredah Othman.

“As a business, we understand the value of targeting tourists from all over the world, including these areas.

“We intend to develop permanent ties with travel agents so they may inform their fellow residents or tourists about Sabah and the available direct flights if they travel to any destination that already has an established link with Sabah,” she said in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 14).

Sabah is thus further solidifying its status as an essential transportation hub in South-East Asia with STB currently participating in the Routes Asia 2023 event in Chiang Mai, Thailand, said Noredah who was attending the event.

STB aimed to expand its connections within the aviation sector and with other tourism-related agencies during the route development forum for Asia which will be held from Tuesday until Thursday (Feb 16).

“This event will enable us to have key conversations with senior decision-makers from the region’s airlines to rebuild robust international air connectivity into Sabah.

“We want to boost tourism growth by fostering new business relationships while strengthening old ones.

“Route Asia allows us to gain exclusive insight into the aviation sector in the new post-pandemic era,” she said.

The STB team would take advantage of the platform to gather information on industry trends, competitor analysis, and customer preferences to help define future tourism development strategies in Sabah, she added.