Sabah Tourism Board leads stronger with Joniston’s reappointment as Chairman

KOTA KINABALU, — The future of Sabah’s tourism industry shines brighter with the reappointment of Datuk Joniston Bangkuai as Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman.

This move puts an end to speculation and assures continued leadership for the state’s key tourism driver.

Bangkuai, whose expertise in developing rural tourism is widely recognized, served his previous term until November 15th. His reappointment signals the government’s confidence in his ability to steer the sector towards further growth.

Adding to the momentum is the appointment of Julinus Jeffery Jimit as the new STB CEO, replacing Noredah Othman. Noredah will now head the newly established Sabah Convention Bureau, dedicated to promoting the state’s MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) potential.

State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew commended the industry players at the Sabah Tourism Appreciation Night and reiterated the ministry’s commitment to work collaboratively with STB. Notably, she emphasized the importance of balancing economic growth with environmental preservation and respect for Sabah’s natural heritage.

Liew attributed the state’s success in achieving its 2023 target of 2.2 million tourist arrivals to the combined efforts of STB’s promotional initiatives and the professionalism of tourism businesses. With optimism, she set an ambitious target of 2.8 million tourists and RM5.6 billion in tourism revenue for 2024.

China, South Korea, and Brunei remained Sabah’s top post-pandemic tourist markets. Liew highlighted the resumption of 63 out of 87 pre-pandemic flights from China and lauded the swift recovery of South Korean airlines and agents with direct flights and high load factors. Notably, Brunei emerged as the leading source of international tourists in November and December, thanks in part to the newly opened Temburong bridge and Pan Borneo Highway.

With Bangkuai’s continued leadership, a dedicated MICE focus, and improved connectivity, Sabah’s tourism industry is poised for a promising 2024 and beyond.