Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and AirAsia have agreed to come up with a strategic partnership plan aimed at propelling the Sabah tourism industry to new heights.
This initiative stems from a discussion between a delegation from STB led by its chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai and AirAsia management team led by its Chief Executive Officer Bo Lingam at AirAsia’s corporate headquarters in Sepang on Monday.
Both sides agreed on a comprehensive five-year master plan with the proposed Memorandum of Collaboration (MoC) to be formalised after the Chinese New Year.
The proposed collaborative effort would encompass a strategic vision for promoting Sabah and luring a higher influx of tourists.
A team of senior officials from both sides have been tasked to work on the proposed MoC.
The plan extends to the expansion of international routes and the potential development of Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminal 2 to meet the surging demand.
The meeting was a follow-up to the recent discussion between Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, and AirAsia co-founders Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun and Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
Present were STB Board of Directors member Datuk Tan Kok Liang, STB newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer Julinus Jeffrey Jimit, STB Deputy Chief Executive Officer Tay Shu Lan, and Marketing Manager Zarinah Amiludin.
AirAsia representatives present were its deputy group chief executive officer Datuk Captain Chester Voo Chee Soon, group chief commercial officer Karen Chan, and chief revenue management and network planning officer Paul Carroll.
During the meeting, Joniston and Bo emphasised the importance of ensuring that any agreements reached are mutually beneficial and achievable.
“The focus is on creating a partnership that not only uplifts the tourism sector but also fosters a positive and sustainable relationship between Sabah and AirAsia.
“This is to ensure whatever partnership we establish will deliver tangible benefits for Sabah’s tourism industry while also aligning with AirAsia’s strategic objectives,” said Joniston.
On upcoming development, AirAsia shared plans to launch eight new routes into Sabah this year.
The routes include Jakarta, Denpasar, Manado, Shanghai, Osaka and Incheon.
Throughout 2023, Bo said AirAsia has flown over two million passengers into Sabah.
He expressed AirAsia’s eagerness to collaborate closely with Sabah and reiterated AirAsia’s readiness to support initiatives aligned with Sabah’s interests as well as priorities.
Currently, AirAsia has 12 domestic and nine international routes.
The international routes are Singapore, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Beijing and Hangzhou.
In December 2023, the low-cost airline operated an impressive schedule of 51 weekly international flights and over 280 weekly domestic flights.
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