Promote Sandakan from tourism perspective to boost economy

KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew said she has pushed for the advancement of Sandakan from the tourism perspective to boost the local economy.

She said this is because Sandakan is invariably the gateway to Sabah’s iconic wildlife such as the Borneo pygmy elephant, orangutan and proboscis monkey.

She believed that Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd (MASB) which manages the Sandakan Airport, among others in Sabah, has an optimisation plan for the airport that comes with an allocation.

“I will be meeting with MASB officials in due course to discuss some pertinent issues relating to the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). I will find out more about the optimisation plan for the Sandakan Airport, and take the opportunity to relay the concerns raised by Tanjung Papat Assemblyman (Datuk) Frankie Poon,” Liew said in a statement on Friday.

At the recent Malaysia International Travel Mart (MITM) Travel Fair 2023, here, she emphasised the need to increase direct flights to Sandakan during a conversation with Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) officials.

Liew was responding to Poon who, in a statement on Wednesday, lamented that Sandakan is “dying” and needs “resuscitation” due to lack of infrastructure and tourism development, while calling on her to do more for Sandakan to rejuvenate its tourism industry, and to get the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) to help out Sabah, in particular Sandakan.

“I concur with (Datuk) Poon that air connectivity is of paramount importance, and a surge in direct flights from international destinations or domestic tourism at least is very much needed to revitalise the Sandakan economy,” she said.

According to Liew, the proposed Elephant Food Corridor project in the Lower Kinabatangan region will have some economic spillover effects into Sandakan.

Photo : Datuk Christina Liew

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