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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah had achieved its best performance last year in terms of arrivals and tourism receipts, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

“The number of tourist arrivals in the state last year was expected to hit 3.7 million, which would contribute to tourism receipts amounting to RM7.76 billion.

“About 35 per cent of international arrivals were from China, owing to improved air travel between the country and Sabah.

“I would like to attribute the good results to the close collaboration between airline companies and Malaysia’s leading airport operator Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd, ” he said at a welcome dinner for passengers flying to Sabah on Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s new Airbus A350 from Kuala Lumpur recently.

Masidi said there were 14 airlines which offered services, including 176 international and 418 domestic flights at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

He said with the high number of flights, KKIA had become the second-busiest airport in the country after Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“It is very encouraging to have tourists who come from north Asia to Sabah and we know this situation will continue with the presence of smart partnerships with various parties.

“We also hope there will be more airlines bringing in more business visitors, especially on long-haul flights,” Masidi said, adding that the efforts would help promote Sabah to businessmen, especially with the expected completion of Sabah International Convention Centre by end of this year.

Also present at the dinner were Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai and Malaysia Airlines chief commercial officer Arved Von Zur Muehlen.

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