KOTA KINABALU: The ongoing trade war against China and the country’s stock market drop have caused a decline in Chinese tourist arrivals to Sabah during the Golden Week holiday in China.
Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) president Datuk Seri Winston Liaw said the occupancy rate of hotels had fallen to 50 to 60 per cent this October, as compared to an average of 80 to 85 per cent occupancy in the same period last year.
“The trade war has affected China’s economy.
“Additionally, the Shanghai Composite Index, which has dropped from 3,200 to 2,700 in mid-year and down to about 2,500 during the Golden Week means that a large numbers of investors have their cash tied up, which in turn affect luxuries such as travelling.”
Liaw also stressed the need to offer tourists night activities as the tourism attractions in Malaysia were mainly natural destinations such as islands and beaches.
“Tourists have nowhere to go at night.
“Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia offer the same tourist attractions, but they have a lot more night activities which tourists can go to after dinner.”
He said the Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew recently announced the ministry’s plan to convert Gaya Street into a ‘walking street’ for tourists only at night for them to sample local delicacies and buy Sabah souvenirs.
Liaw proposed expanding the walking street concept to Asia City and Api-Api Centre as well so that tourists staying in the vicinities would not have to walk far to Gaya Street at night.
“The walking street is a healthy night activity which allows tourists to spend time shopping and seeing our cultures.”
He said many tourists were repeat travellers who complained of having no place to go to at night.
He also suggested creating a pub street in Kota Kinabalu like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou in China, if possible.
“Pub streets in Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines are tourist attractions,” he said.
Additionally, Liaw highlighted the issue of garbage littering Semporna islands and Mantanani Island.
“Quite a number of Caucasian tourists have complained to me about rubbish on the islands.
“They felt sad seeing the once clean islands are littered with garbage now.
“The government must clean up the rubbish and address this issue immediately.”
On another note, Liaw said the government must not be complacent with the increasing number of Chinese and Korean tourists to Sabah.
He said ongoing marketing efforts by the government and private sector were necessary to ensure tourists from the two main source markets, namely China and Korea, continue to visit our State.
“At the same time, we need to promote Sabah to the European and American markets as well.”
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