27th September, 2016
HANGZHOU: Global online marketing giant Alibaba Group has expressed readiness to help promote Sabah’s tourism attractions through its online travel marketing platform, Alitrip.
Its general manager for Destination Division Tony Duan said the company is open to any discussion for Sabah to leverage on their global online travel marketing, especially targetting the Chinese market.
“We are aware of Sabah’s growing popularity as a tourist destination especially among the Chinese,” he said.
Duan made the remark during a briefing for a delegation from the State Legislative Assembly headed by Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang who visited Alibaba Group’s headquarters here.
He was responding to an enquiry from Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, who is part of the delegation, on the possibility of STB leveraging on Alibaba’s global reach in its online travel marketing.
Duan said Alibaba and STB could explore the possibility of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishing a collaboration to promote Sabah as a destination to the world, focusing on China.
Teo had during the briefing said Chinese visitors accounted for nearly half of Sabah’s international arrivals during the first six months of this year – an indication of the state’s popularity among Chinese travellers.
Teo invited the Group to look into the possibility of making Sabah as a centre for its business operation, considering its strategic location in the region.
Noting that Alibaba has set up a data centre in Singapore, Teo said Sabah could be an ideal operation centre for the Group to tap on the potential vast market within the BIMP-EAGA region covering Brunei, Kalimantan and Sumatera in Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia and Southern Philippines which has a combined population of about 70 million.
“Kota Kinabalu is strategically located making it an ideal location for any business operation catering for the BIMP-EAGA markets,” Teo said.
The Sabah delegation is on a 10-day study visit to several cities in China at the invitation of the Chinese government through its Consul-General’s office in Kota Kinabalu.
Besides Teo and Joniston, other members of the delegation are State Assembly Deputy Speakers Datuk Johnny Mositun and Datuk Dr Johnson Tee; Infrastructure Development Assistant Ministers Datuk Ghulam Khan Bahadar and Datuk Bobby Suan; Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah; Sugut Assemblyman Datuk James Ratib; Kepayan DAP Assemblyman Dr Edwin Bosi and State Assembly secretary Datuk Bernard Dalinting.
The Sabah delegation met with leaders of Zhejiang Provincial People’s Congress before leaving for Beijing on Tuesday to continue their study tour.