Government AffairsTourism Malaysia proposes tri-state consortium to target holidaymakers, corporate travellers and MICE groups.

Tourism players from Penang, Sabah and Labuan come together to promote domestic travel

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's islands and surrounding waters provide myriad options for domestic incentive travel.
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's islands and surrounding waters provide myriad options for domestic incentive travel. Photo Credit: gettyimages/afby71

Tourism players from Penang, Sabah and Labuan are looking to create a consortium to stimulate domestic tourism. The programme was initiated by Tourism Malaysia via its Sabah office together with its strategic partners Sabah Tourism Board (STB), Labuan Corporation, and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Sabah and Labuan chapters.

Under the consortium, Penang agents will promote Sabah and Labuan destinations to both leisure and corporate travellers as well as MICE groups. This initiative is aligned with Sabah's and Labuan’s transition to Phase 4 of Malaysia’s National Recovery Plan. Tourism Malaysia has created 450 packages to support this strategy.

STB CMO Tay Shu Lan said that with international borders remaining closed for now, Penang's tour operators will shift their focus from overseas tour groups to domestic travel to Sabah.

“There is a lot of demand for domestic tourism for those in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor because people still cannot go abroad," says Tourism Malaysia's Senior Director Iskandar Mirza Mohd Yusof. He hopes that travellers from Peninsular Malaysia will choose Sabah and Labuan
as their preferred holiday destination with the attractive packages offered.

As Malaysia shifts into an endemic Covid-19 phase, this move could be seen as a plan to both restore the tourism landscape as well as recalibrate the industry’s response to host MICE events. 

“We are excited to trial the move to focus on MICE in Sabah and Labuan. This paves the way for various tourism stakeholders, not just venues and hotels, to kickstart their operations. I look forward to seeing this replicated with other states soon," says Muhammad Fuad Abdul Rahman, MD of Aifar Tours & Vacations Sdn Bhd in Penang.

Adds Executive Chairman Datok Ilyas Zainol Abidin of Malaysia’s Ample Prospects Sdn Bhd, who works closely with Tourism Malaysia in implementing hospitality standards, "It doesn’t matter whether they are leisure or business travellers. Contrary to the perception that tourism depends on international tourists, it is the domestic travellers who will revive the industry during these times.”

Sabah stands to further benefit with the resumption of the Penang-Kota Kinabalu direct flights by Malaysia Airlines since 1 December, and the Sabah government’s decision to do away with the Covid-19 swab test requirement.

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