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Sabah tourism destination presentation in Hungary – Interview with Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew

by Staff

The Sabah Tourism Board from Malaysia was in Budapest recently to undertake a tourism promotion mission from 9-12 March 2024. The delegation was led by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment of Sabah herself, the Hon. Datuk Christina Liew. 

Also in the delegation were the Assistant Minister, the Hon. Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ms. Josie Lai and the Chief Executive Officer of the Sabah Tourism Board, Mr. Julinus Jimit. They were accompanied by His Excellency the Ambassador of Malaysia to Hungary, Ambassador Francisco Munis.

In an interview with the Daily News Hungary on 11 March 2024, the Honourable Minister spoke about her tourism promotion mission in Budapest.

Daily News Hungary: Why did Sabah Tourism choose Budapest as the location for this destination presentation?

Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew: Sabah Tourism is excited to explore new markets, and Budapest presents an excellent opportunity as a gateway to introduce Sabah to Central and Eastern Europe. Despite Hungary being landlocked, Sabah’s diverse offerings of islands and beaches provide a refreshing and exotic destination for travellers seeking sun, sand, and adventure. Additionally, the presence and support of the Malaysian Embassy here have made Budapest an ideal choice for this presentation.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment of Sabah Hon. Datuk Christina Liew and Ambassador Francisco Munis. Photo: Daily News Hungary

Moreover, Budapest’s strategic location and excellent flight connectivity make it easily accessible from key international hubs. Travelers from Budapest can conveniently access Sabah via flights connecting through Shanghai, China, or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Budapest is also well-connected through Middle Eastern airlines, providing additional accessibility for travellers interested in exploring Sabah’s unique attractions and cultural heritage.

Daily News Hungary: What can be expected from the destination presentation in Budapest?

Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew: We are engaging and presenting to the local travel agents in Budapest, a total of 31 of them. Attendees can expect an immersive experience highlighting Sabah’s breathtaking natural landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant culture. The presentation will feature insightful sessions and networking opportunities to learn more about Sabah’s tourism offerings and engage with representatives from Sabah Tourism.

Daily News Hungary: What makes Sabah stand out as a travel destination?

Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew: From mountain high to ocean deep, Sabah offers a unique blend of adventure, culture, and natural beauty that sets it apart from other destinations. From scaling the majestic peaks of Mount Kinabalu to exploring the pristine marine life of its tropical islands, Sabah offers unparalleled experiences for travellers of all interests. Moreover, Sabah’s rich cultural heritage, diverse ethnic communities, and warm hospitality create a truly immersive and memorable journey for visitors.

Daily News Hungary: How does Sabah Tourism plan to promote sustainable tourism practices during the presentation?

Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew: Sabah is committed to sustainable tourism practices, as evidenced by government initiatives such as conservation efforts in marine and nature parks. For instance, Sabah boasts marine parks like Sipadan, renowned globally for its rich marine biodiversity and strict conservation measures. Additionally, the Kinabalu UNESCO Global Geopark, home to the majestic Mount Kinabalu and its surrounding areas, showcases Sabah’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage while promoting responsible tourism. Visitors can explore unique geological formations, diverse ecosystems, and cultural heritage sites within the geopark. 

Furthermore, destinations like Bohey Dulang Island offer visitors opportunities for eco-friendly activities such as hiking and birdwatching, while also supporting local conservation efforts. These initiatives align with Sabah Tourism’s goal of promoting sustainable tourism practices and preserving Sabah’s natural and cultural treasures for future generations. Sabah’s wildlife conservation initiatives, including the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center, demonstrate our dedication to protecting endangered species and their habitats.

Daily News Hungary: What are some key attractions and experiences that Sabah offers to visitors?

Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew: Sabah boasts a wide range of attractions and experiences for visitors to explore. Some highlights include:

  •       Scaling Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia, for breathtaking panoramic views.
  •       Diving and snorkelling in the pristine waters of Sipadan Island, renowned for its rich marine biodiversity.
  •       Exploring the lush rainforests of Danum Valley Conservation Area, home to rare wildlife species and indigenous tribes.
  •       Immerse in the vibrant culture of Sabah through visits to traditional villages, colourful markets, cultural festivals and community-based tourism activities.
  •       Embarking on wildlife safaris to spot iconic species such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and pygmy elephants in their natural habitat.
  •       Sabah offers beautiful beach and island resorts in Mataking, Kapalai, Mabul in Semporna and Lankayan island in Sandakan. In Kota Kinabalu, we have Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa and Gaya Island Resort. These luxurious retreats offer guests the opportunity to unwind in idyllic settings, surrounded by crystal-clear waters and lush tropical landscapes. For those seeking urban adventures, Sabah’s city resorts like The Magellan Sutera Resort and The Pacific Sutera Hotel provide convenient access to vibrant city life, cultural attractions, and shopping destinations.

These are just a few examples of the diverse experiences that await visitors in Sabah.

Daily News Hungary: How can travel agents and tour operators collaborate with Sabah Tourism to promote the destination?

Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew: Travel agents and tour operators play a crucial role in promoting Sabah as a premier travel destination. Sabah Tourism welcomes collaborations and partnerships to develop promotional campaigns, and marketing initiatives that showcase the unique attractions and experiences of our destination. We encourage travel agents and tour operators to reach out to us to explore potential collaboration opportunities and join hands in promoting Sabah to Hungarians.

Daily News Hungary: Apart from the destination presentation, are any other meetings planned in Budapest?

Minister Hon. Datuk Christina Liew: Yes, as part of Sabah’s delegation visit to Budapest, the delegation will also conduct tourism diplomacy and of course there will be a special meeting with the Budapest City Council. This meeting presents an invaluable opportunity for Sabah to learn more about how the City Council administered and developed its tourist attractions, enabling Sabah to bring back the knowledge and insights to further enhance its own city tourism offerings. In addition, we are also meeting the Hungarian Tourism Agency and the Hungarian Federation of Rural Tourism to learn and offer possible collaborations.


Sabah tourism delegation in Budapest, Hungary.

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