KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and Japan share similar ideas on sustainable tourism and ecotourism which could lure more Japanese tourists to the ‘Land Below the Wind’.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said rural tourism in the state would be a hit among Japanese tourists, where they could experience ‘shinrin-yoku’ or ‘forest bathing’ – a concept used in Japan to encourage people to spend time amid nature.
“STB is always working with our partners in Japan to continue promoting Sabah as a destination of choice. Of course with the reopening of the international border next year, we look forward to welcoming back our Japanese visitors,“ he said in a statement, today.
Bangkuai, who is also Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman, was exchanging views with Japan Travel Bureau (JBT) managing director for Malaysia, Kiyoshi Fujita on Sabah’s potential and prospects of attracting more Japanese tourists to the state, during a luncheon meeting here, yesterday.
Meanwhile, Fujita said Sabah’s natural beauty as well as its many attractions had the potential of enticing Japanese visitors and leaving them with a positive impression.
Lauded for its wonders, Fujita said Sabah was one of the focus destinations among the Japanese and that many had travelled to the state prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is my first trip to Sabah and I’ve already visited a few interesting spots that are sure to be popular with the Japanese. I’m quite impressed and I’m sure Japanese tourists can’t wait to return to Sabah to experience it again,“ he remarked.
He also emphasised the importance of having strict standard operating procedures in the tourism industry, noting that the Japanese government is rigid about it.
Founded in 1912, JTB is Japan’s largest travel agency and one of the world’s major travel firms specialising in tourism.
Fujita who was appointed JTB managing director for Malaysia in February 2021, had also visited Melaka, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur.
He arrived in Kota Kinabalu on Nov 13 for a four-day working trip, where he toured the Gaya Street Sunday Market, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Kinabalu Park, Poring Hot Spring, among the tourist spots, and went on a Klias river cruise.-Bernama