Tourism Malaysia state director Mohd Roslan Abdullah said Sabah had recorded an annual growth in tourist arrivals from China, from 61,567 tourists in 2006 to 77,475 tourist arrivals in 2007 and 87,175 last year.
“This shows that there is a healthy growth in terms of tourist arrivals from China.
“With Shenzhen Airlines making its way to Sabah, we hope for more tourists from China,” he said at a dinner after Shenzhen Airlines’ inaugural flight to Sabah.
The airline launched the new route on Friday with the inaugural flight leaving Shenzhen at 11.50pm with 163 passengers, including invited guests and members of the media. It arrived here at 2.30am today. A group of Sabah media members flew out to Shenzhen at 4.30am as part of its familiarisation programme.
Shenzhen Airlines sales department general manager Liu Zhen said it would fly to Kota Kinabalu twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays with a capacity of 164 seats, and although it was currently operating only chartered flights, the airline hoped to operate scheduled flights soon.
“Passengers from Malaysia, especially from Sabah, will fly to other cities in China via Shenzhen and those from China will go to Sabah through Shenzhen,” he said, adding that Shenzhen also connected 24 other cities in China.
He added that they had introduced flights to Bangkok, Thailand in April and would start flying to Phnom Penh, Cambodia in September. Sabah is the second international destination introduced so far.
Shenzhen Airlines is already flying to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
At present, Malaysia’s low-cost carrier AirAsia is also servicing the Shenzhen-Kota Kinabalu route.
Liu said plans were in the pipeline to introduce four new routes to Japan and other cities in South- East Asia.
Shenzhen Airlines is a Shenzhen-based airline founded in November 1992 and started service in September 1993 as an airline specialised in passengers, cargo and mail transportation.
Source : STAR
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