Tourism Malaysia is hoping to give the local tourism industry a boost through a deal with Singapore Airlines (SIA) to bring in more European tourists to Malaysia in 2016, the Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said.
With the deal, SIA will first bring the tourists into Singapore, before bringing them to Sabah and other parts of Malaysia.
Datuk Seri Nazri explained that Borneo (Sabah) is a very popular choice of travel destination among European tourists, who are very much interested in eco-tourism.
He added that Sabah has continued to thrive as a tourist spot despite the Mount Kinabalu quake in June last year and terrorist attacks in Lahad Datu in February 2013.
In 2015, Malaysia recorded a 6.7% drop in tourist arrivals, while Sabah recorded only 1.8%, he said.
With the new deal, Datuk Seri Nazi shared that Tourism Malaysia is targeting at least eight million tourist arrivals to Sabah in 2016.
Tourism Malaysia will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore air carrier to seal the deal in Berlin, Germany in March.
Meanwhile, he also urged Sabah tourism players to take advantage of the visa-free policy for Chinese tourists, as the Chinese topped all nationalities in terms of arrivals here.
In the revised Budget 2016 announcement, China tourists were exempted from visa for a 15-day stay in Malaysia starting from March 1 to December 31 this year.