KOTA KINABALU: Sandakan, on the east coast of Sabah, is more than just a wildlife destination, and it should be promoted and marketed as the hub for gastronomy, heritage, and wildlife to further position itself as the preferred tourist destination.
The above was presented and discussed during a stakeholder dialogue between the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and the Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) here yesterday.
During the dialogue, STAN raised several key issues concerning the local tourism industry, which include flight connectivity, current travel advisory, incentive schemes for major events, more joint marketing campaigns with STB, and improving current amenities, among others. STAN also presented a proposal for potential new direct flights to Sandakan during the dialogue.
In response, Julinus stressed that Sandakan is already famous as a premier nature and wildlife destination, so we must capitalise on its position as the former capital city of British Normal Borneo to raise Sandakan’s profile as a historical and heritage destination. At the same time, Sandakan must also capitalise on our reputation as a seafood haven to further enhance Sandakan’s standing as the hub of gastronomy.
“Such a positioning can be achieved through impactful tourism products, smart market affiliation with other cities, such as Penang, on food and heritage, and consistent marketing efforts to raise Sandakan’s profile. This will allow Sandakan to diversify beyond the existing market, creating higher demand, and I’m sure more direct flights will follow after that, added Julinus.
The above dialogue was attended by STB’s new CEO, Julinus Jimit, Senior Marketing Manager Humphrey Ginibun, Senior Product Manager Halimah Binti Hj Hassan, Product Manager Daniel Roman, Digital and Communication Manager David Michael, STAN President Teo Chee Kim, as well as over 20 members of the association.
The STB stakeholder dialogue for Sandakan was first initiated back in 2018 as a regular engagement with the local industry players here. This was the first dialogue being held since the pandemic, and more will follow to create closer collaboration between STB and local industry players here in Sandakan.