Saturday, April 27, 2013

Malaysia launches Sabah tourism packages to move on from Kiram incident

Malaysian authorities are taking the first concrete step to counter negative impressions of Sabah following clashes with followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III — by offering Sabah tourism packages.

On Friday, the Tourism Malaysia Domestic Promotion Division launched the "Sabah, Sandakan & Tawau Tour Packages" featuring 10 tourist destinations in Sandakan and Tawau.

A report on Malaysia's state-run Bernama news agency described the tourism package as "an initiative to introduce these tourist destinations to domestic travelers after the Lahad Datu incident."

Tourism domestic promotion division director Musa Yusof said the Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Malaysia and relevant agencies had taken proactive action by setting up dialogues and the Sabah Tourism Task Force (STTF) last March 18 "to counter the negative impact of the Lahad Datu incident."

Last February, armed followers of Kiram engaged Malaysian forces in a three-week standoff that ended in deadly clashes on March 1 and 2. Following the deadly clashes, Malaysia mounted offensives to flush out Kiram's followers from Lahad Datu.

Movie names

The Bernama report said some of the packages included four days and three nights in Sandakan ("Return of The Planet Ape") and four days and three nights ("Finding Nemo & Dory") in Mabul Island.

"The packages were named after popular movies as people tend to remember famous movies more," Musa said.

He pointed out that Sandakan and Tawau have bountiful natural wealth, including Sukau-Kinabatangan, Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Selingan Island in Sandakan; and Tawau Hills Park, Teck Guan Cocoa Museum and Village, Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking, Sipadan Islands in Semporna.

Musa said Tourism Malaysia is confident of achieving the Sabah Tourism Board's target of two million domestic arrivals this year.

However, there was a slight decrease in domestic tourist arrivals for January and February this year compared to the same period last year.

Musa also said domestic tourists spent about RM42.3 billion in 2011, an increase of 21.9 percent compared to RM34.7 billion in the same period of 2010.


Meanwhile, a separate report by Malaysia's New Straits Times said the Malaysian Defense Ministry linked three opposition leaders to the "armed intrusion."

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said two of the three were leaders from the opposition parties based in the Peninsula while the other is in Sabah.

"We have identified the culprits and we have evidence to prove their involvement in the intrusion. However, we are still compiling more evidence to come out with a strong case against the three suspects," he said.-GMA News (Arpil 27, 2013)

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