KOTA KINABALU – Tourism Malaysia, with the cooperation of Jin Air, aims to fly in 15,378 passengers via 86 chartered flights to Sabah in 2015.
Budget airline Jin Air is a subsidiary of Korean Air.
Tourism Malaysia will also be running a three-month campaign up to March next year to draw more Korean tourists to the “Land Below the Wind”.
Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia Datuk Azizan Noordin said this is in line with the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to draw more tourists to the country, especially Sabah.
“Though this cooperation, we are looking at about 380,000 Korean tourists making their way to Malaysia next year. Sabah last year registered 283,000 Korean tourist arrivals and we hope to record 350,000 for 2014, he added.
He told reporters this after welcoming Jin Air’s maiden flight to the state at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport last night.
The direct Boeing 737-800 flight from Incheon to Kota Kinabalu had 183 passengers, including crew.
The flight will operate seven times weekly during the peak season and four times weekly when demand is low in Korea.
Azizan termed the cooperation an “adventure” that will benefit both Tourism Malaysia and Jin Air.
He said the beauty of Sabah’s islands, which are among the best tourist attractions in the world, will charm the Koreans and moreso during the winter months in that country.
He said Tourism Malaysia, through its office in Seoul which has been in operation from 1991, will enhance promotions to attract more tourists from Korea.
This includes attending Expos in the Korean market and bringing in the media and travel agencies from that country on familiarisation trips to Malaysia, and with Sabah uppermost in mind.
“Up to July this year, the country’s tourism industry saw a 9.1 per cent rise compared to the same period of 2013 in registering 16.1 million arrivals from all over the world.
“Of this, the Korean market totalled 223,435 and this is a 36 per cent improvement. It also points to a larger number of Korean tourists next year,” Azizan added.
Meanwhile, he expressed optimism that tourist arrivals from China will rise from a current low, following measures being taken by Tourism Malaysia to restore confidence in the Malaysian market, particularly with the advent of the Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 (FEST 2015).
On another note, Jin Air Vice President Kwang Lee said the airline welcomed the aviation programme cooperation to introduce Sabah to Koreans, as an attractive tourist destination.
Towards this end, Lee also said Jin Air was offering reasonable return fares based on the season. – BERNAMA