Sabah assistant minister says state remains preferred tourism destination for South Koreans
KOTA KINABALU, March 22 — Sabah is once again a preferred destination for South Koreans after the state recorded nearly half of 2022 arrivals in just the first month of this year.
Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said that the ministry recorded 21,541 arrivals from South Korea in January, almost half of the number 55,152 arrivals recorded throughout last year.
"The Korean market is so important to us that it was the first country the Sabah Tourism Board team visited when the border reopened in April of last year to engage with airlines and travel agents there,” said Joniston, who is also chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board.
"The surge in Korean tourists is largely thanks to the increase in scheduled direct flight into Sabah, and of course, this could not have been possible without a close engagement,” he said, adding that Kota Kinabalu is also well connected via Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, China, Taipei, and Brunei.
Joniston said that Sabah is also currently working out 30 weekly direct flights from Korea with Kota Kinabalu connecting via Incheon and Busan.
This is in contrast to the previous year, when there were only 16 weekly flights between Kota Kinabalu and Incheon. They were among the first batch of international tourists that came to Sabah post-pandemic.
The South Koreans are attracted to Sabah mainly because of its beautiful islands, beaches, and golf courses.
Prior to the pandemic, Sabah registered 396,700 tourists from South Korea in 2019 and 337,100 in 2018. They are the second largest international arrival after China.