There could not be a better travel marketplace platform than the ITB Berlin 2023 (Internationale Tourismus-Borse Berlin) for Sabah Tourism Board (STB) to launch Sabah's new destination rebranding - 'Feel Sabah, North Borneo'.
STB is under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
'Feel Sabah' promotion was developed by STB while the idea of incorporating 'North Borneo' was mooted by Minister Datuk Christina Liew who led a 10-member delegation to this global event.
Launching this rebranding exercise at the world's largest tourism trade fair at the Messe Berlin in Germany on Tuesday, Minister Datuk Christina Liew said it was most apt to adopt this promotional theme for sentimental and historical reasons.
She stressed that we want the international community to know that Sabah is located in the northern part of Borneo Island in the hope of fascinating and wooing more European tourists, among others.
"The name 'North Borneo' (now Sabah) sounds exotic and evokes nostalgic feelings of yearning for this destination. It is also of historical significance as the state was then known as 'North Borneo' prior to gaining our Independence in 1963. "People in many parts of the world (reportedly) haven't heard about Sabah, despite decades of promoting this Land Below The Wind to the outside world, let alone know about our diverse natural attractions and iconic wildlife.
"However, we are aware that at the mention of Borneo or North Borneo, it rings a bell.
Europeans in particular associate Sabah with Borneo. Hence, we are determined to rebrand this tourist destination with 'Feel Sabah, North Borneo' to create a new identity in the travel marketplace," Liew said after the launch.
Photo Credit: Sabah Tourism
Sabah is home to spectacular natural wonders such as Mount Kinabalu, Maliau Basin and Tip of Borneo, she added.
The delegation comprised Assistant Minister cum STB Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the Ministry's Permanent Secretary Datuk Mohd Yusrie Abdullah, STB Chief Executive Officer Noredah Othman as well as ministry and STB officials.
With the recent resumption of international direct flights, cruise tourism and optimism about mounting regular or chartered flights from new destinations, Liew said Sabah targets 2.2 million arrivals for 2023 and will work towards attaining 2.5 million arrivals. "If we succeed in hitting the 2.5 million mark, this would indicate an increase by 45.35pc compared with 1.72 million arrivals in 2022."
According to her, Sabah's top feeder markets in the past (based on 2019 data) had represented a good mix from Taiwan, China, Brunei, Singapore and South Korea. "For Europe specifically, our top inbound tourism markets are from Germany, France, Netherlands and Italy."
The Minister added that plans are afoot to explore prospects of luring tourists from new tourism markets in America, Australia, Japan and India via tourism roadshows by STB. Borneo Eco Tours, Borneo Nature Tours, Borneo Trails, Rustic Borneo, Sepilok Tropical Wildlife Adventure and Tabin Wildlife Reserve from Sabah are participating in ITB Berlin 2023, rated as the world's leading travel trade show.