KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and India should work together to bring more tourists from the South Asian nation to the state.
Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia B.N. Reddy said in 2019, there were 700,000 visitors from India to Malaysia.
However, he said, only about 5,000 visited Sabah.
At the same time, some 335,000 Malaysians travelled to India the same year.
Reddy said, with the easing of travel requirements for India and Malaysia, the republic was hoping to resume the pre-pandemic level of 250 weekly flights between the two nations. At present, there are only 75 weekly flights.
Reddy said there is an Indian company which develops a special software that would link users to information about destinations.
"When I made a courtesy call earlier to the chief minister (Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor), I mentioned that the state government should do something about bringing more tourists from India, who are already coming to Malaysia, to Sabah.
"I also requested the chief minister consider the use of the portal," he said, adding that Sabah could also use the film industry to promote nature and adventure tourism to the people of India.
Reddy was speaking in a press conference after the reopening of India's visa centre here. Present was Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk K.L. Tan.
The centre, located at Wisma Sabah here, is the second to reopen after the office in Kuala Lumpur. Other centres in Penang and Johor will reopen soon, and another will be set up in Melaka in future.
"We have close to 250 Indian companies based in Malaysia but they are largely in the peninsula (so) we are looking at them to take more interest in Sabah with the roadmap drawn up under the 12th Malaysian Plan as well as under Sabah Maju Jaya," said Reddy.
He added that the Indian business community is open for opportunities in Sabah, especially with the relocation of Indonesia's new capital Nusantara in Kalimantan.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Hajiji, who met Reddy at Menara Kinabalu here, said Sabah welcomed the arrival of foreign investors and tourists from abroad, including India.
He said both would help boost the state economic and tourism sectors.
"The state government will facilitate business activities or 'ease of doing business' and be investor-friendly in Sabah in an effort to enhance business activities and attract more investors to the state."