Sabah’s Unique Biodiversity, Stunning Landscapes, and Rich Cultural Heritage Make it a Magnet for Global Travellers, STB CEO

Julinus Jeffery Jimit, CEO of Sabah Tourism Board (STB), in an exclusive chat with Travel Trends Today (T3)

What makes Sabah a unique and attractive destination for global travellers? How Sabah differentiates itself from other destinations in the region?

Sabah’s unique biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage make it a magnet for global travelers. Its pristine rainforests, diverse marine life, and vibrant local communities set it apart from other destinations in the region. From mountain high to ocean deep, Sabah has it all to offer all types of travelers. Sabah has achieved a remarkable feat by being recognised as a Unesco Triple Crown site, making it only the third place in the world to receive such a prestigious distinction. This recognition followed the declaration of the Kinabalu National Geopark as the Kinabalu Unesco Global Geopark in 2023.

Could you outline some of the key initiatives Sabah Tourism Board is deploying to showcase Sabah to the global market, particularly in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

To mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, Sabah Tourism Board has implemented various marketing efforts. These include leveraging digital platforms and engaging with content creators and travel influencers to promote Sabah’s attractions. Additionally, targeted marketing campaigns highlighting Sabah’s unique offerings were rolled out to capture the attention of potential travellers worldwide.

Sabah Tourism Board (STB) is also increasing its branding efforts by boosting its social media presence on online platforms. Through engaging content and targeted campaigns, STB aims to reach a broader audience and foster awareness of Sabah’s unique attractions and experiences. Furthermore, STB is enhancing its branding through strategic billboard advertising and features in prominent magazines. These initiatives help to showcase Sabah’s diverse offerings and capture the attention of potential travelers.

Sabah also continues to participate in International Travel Trade and Consumer Shows, as being present at these international shows and exhibitions not only continues to show our presence but to build partnerships and networking opportunities to further promote Sabah globally. We also collaborate with airlines and travel agents in developing promotional packages and campaigns that highlight Sabah as a desirable travel destination. These partnerships help in increasing accessibility and affordability for travelers.

Sabah Tourism Board has also actively collaborated with airlines to facilitate the resumption of airline routes to Sabah, especially from key markets namely China and South Korea. By working closely with airlines, the board ensures that Sabah remains accessible to international travelers. This effort not only helps in reconnecting Sabah with key source markets but also stimulates demand for travel to the region.

STB is also tapping new market segments in India, Middle East and Central Asia and working on increasing indirect passengers to Sabah with an aim to have direct flights to Sabah.

How does Sabah plan to position itself to appeal to global travelers and what are the top 5 target markets for Sabah Tourism?

Sabah positions itself as an adventure eco-tourism destination, targeting markets like China, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and Europe, capitalizing on their interest in nature and adventure activities. Sabah is also focusing on emerging markets such as India, the Middle East and Central Asia, recognizing their increasing interest in adventure tourism and sustainable travel experiences. By targeting these markets, Sabah aims to diversify its visitor base and strengthen its position as a global tourism destination. Sabah is also potential for the family market and for the indian market, we also promote Indian wedding in Sabah

How important is tourism as an economic activity for the region?

Tourism ranks as number two out of the top three economic contributors to Sabah, alongside agriculture and manufacturing. Tourism is a vital economic activity, contributing significantly to employment, infrastructure development, and revenue generation for local communities. Sabah recognizes the significance of tourism and continues to invest in its development and promotion.

What are Sabah’s key leisure and MICE offerings and competitiveness?

Sabah offers diverse leisure activities such as diving, wildlife safaris, jungle trekking, and cultural experiences, along with modern MICE facilities, making it competitive in both the leisure and business tourism sectors.

Can you highlight any upcoming events or festivals in Sabah that are specifically designed to attract international tourists?

Sabah offers adventure, nature, arts, and music events throughout the year, catering to various interests. Among the confirmed upcoming events are the Borneo Marathon, Mt. Trusmadi International Climbathon, and Elopura Marathon catering to both adventure groups and running enthusiasts; the Borneo Rhythms of Rimba Festival, attracting music lovers; and the Borneo Bird Festival, appealing to birding enthusiasts. These events not only showcase Sabah’s cultural diversity and natural beauty but also provide unique experiences for international tourists seeking adventure, music, and cultural immersion.

Other planned events are the Sabah Fest, Tanjung Aru Beach Festival, Sunset Music Fest, which are cultural, arts, music and family activity festivals; Mt Kinabalu Climbathon, Tropical Adventure Run and Kiulu Adventure Run, for adventure run groups. Travelers can check out our events page at sabahtourism.com/events-in-sabah/.