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Christina welcoming Mohamaddin who was on board the inaugural flight from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu. SNT Pix/Courtesy of State Tourism Ministry

KOTA KINABALU: Travellers in Sabah can now eye Bangkok, Thailand as one of their destinations with the opening of AirAsia’s thrice weekly Bangkok – Kota Kinabalu route today.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi was confident that the new Bangkok-Kota Kinabalu (KK) AirAsia route would also add to the country’s tourist arrivals especially to Sabah.

He said Malaysia was the second most visited ASEAN country after Thailand, with 35.3 million tourist arrivals in 2017, including 1.84 million from Thailand.

“We hope the thrice weekly AirAsia flights from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu will contribute more tourist arrivals to our country,” he told reporters upon arrival from Bangkok onboard the inaugural Bangkok-KK AirAsia flight at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) here.

Present at KKIA were Deputy Chief Minister and State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Christina Liew and AirAsia Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Riad Asmat.

The airplane of the inaugural KK-Bangkok flight receiving a traditional airline welcome upon arrival at KKIA. SNT Pix/Courtesy State Tourism Ministry

Mohammaddin hoped there would be more collaboration between government agencies and the private sector not only within the context of ASEAN but also beyond this region.

“I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the efforts and appreciate the contributions of AirAsia to connect Malaysia globally,” he added.

Meanwhile, Christina in her speech said while there has been a significant growth in visitors from China, South Korea, the Philippines and others to-date, “Thai visitors have yet to discover The Land Below the Wind as we only recorded over 2,000 Thai nationals from January to May this year.”

“Besides the young Thai travellers, we will also be looking at attracting the expat community working in Bangkok to make Kota Kinabalu their preferred holiday destination.

“We have confidence in AirAsia and hope to work hand in hand with them to further promote Sabah as a whole and sustain the route,” she said.-SabahNewsToday


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