DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Recognizing the soaring number of Filipino tourists visiting neighboring ASEAN countries, the Sabah Tourism Board is now working to open easier channels for Filipinos, most especially those who are from Mindanao, to visit Sabah through its state capital, Kota Kinabalu.
Sabah, one of the thirteen states of Malaysia, is known is for its rich natural resources and is a melting pot of more than 30 races with more than 80 different dialects.
Gordon Yapp, Deputy General Manager of Sabah Tourism Board of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, said that they are now eyeing a better connectivity for an exchange of visitors between Mindanao and Sabah.
“We are here to observe and study the market for tourism. And we recognize that there is a big market here in Mindanao. Definitely, Davao and Zamboanga are in our radar for tourism. After our visit here, we will report to our State’s board our observations and hopefully we will be able to reach an agreement for direct flights from Davao to Kota Kinabalu,” said Yapp.
Presently, 2 local airlines mount direct flights to and from Kota Kinabalu at 2 airports in Luzon. AirAsia ferries passengers to and from the Sabah capital at Clark airport in Pampanga, while Cebu Pacific Air’s flights are via Manila.
“There are also ferry services from Zamboanga to Kota Kinabalu but it will take you an approximately 23 hours of travel time. But if there will be direct flights from Davao, the estimated travel time would only be an hour and a half,” Yapp said.
However, Yapp said that there are still no figures for their target visitors from Mindanao but they are highly optimistic that tourism partnership between Sabah and Davao can be sustained.
“Visit Kota Kinabalu and have fun. Tolerance is very high and there are no security issues. You can shop all you want most especially on electronics like laptop computers which are 30% cheaper,” said Yapp.
Sabah is also home to the rare orangutan, proboscis monkey and pygmy elephants. Sabah is also encouraging tourists to visit Mount Kinabalu which is 4,095.2 meters high and is conquerable without any mountain climbing skills. The climb that will take two days only requires basic fitness.
“This tourism partnership will connect Mt. Kinabalu and Mt. Apo,” Yapp said. – Rappler.com