KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's picturesque coastline has great potential for nautical tourists to prolong their stay in the state which can generate economic spillover.

State Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said Sabah, which is blessed with abundance of waterways, should tap the recreational activities of the nautical tourism.

He suggested that Sail Malaysia to make Sabah as a benchmark to organise their future sailing event and make the state a destination of choice for sailors.

Joniston said this during a courtesy call by Sail Malaysia managing director Sazli Kamal Basha in his office at Sabah Tourism Board (STB) here yesterday.

Joniston who is also STB chairman was briefed by Sazli on Sail Malaysia Passage to the East 2023 Yacht Rally and to discuss Sabah's potential as a sailing destination.

"I think we should develop Sabah into a vibrant boating culture because we have received many locals and foreigners participating in recreational boating activities.

"Sabah's picturesque coastline, pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning landscapes, combined with good marines for boat docking, provide a visually appealing sailing experience," said Joniston.

He said the state's niche appeal to host sailing and boating exposition can draw boating enthusiasts and create revenue for local shops, restaurants, hotels, and other service industries.

"The success in hosting the events can enhance Sabah's reputation as a nautical tourism destination.

"And the events can generate temporary and permanent employment opportunities for the local community," he said.

Joniston believed the events could also spur investment in local infrastructure like marinas, piers, and boating facilities.

Meanwhile, Sazli said Sabah offers stunning bays on par with other well-known sailing destinations for mooring boats or yachts.

This, he said, is the case with Marudu Bay, which is accessible to rural destinations where sailors can stay longer and explore the surrounding attractions as well as the local community.

According to statistics provided by Sail Malaysia, the passage to the east yacht rally saw 386 participants between 2008 and 2022, including 24 repeat participants.

The list of rally stops in Sabah includes Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Karakit, Pulau Silingan, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Pulau Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Silam, Bohey Dulang, and Tawau.

The participants were from Australia, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United States, France, Sweden, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, among others.

"This means the rally is a conduit to bring new arrivals to the Sabah. We see a great potential pot because I believe many wish to come here to sail or go boating," Sazli remarked.

According to statistics, the average tourist stays for a week, but those participating in the Sail Malaysia programme typically stay for two years.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

2023-01-31T09:24:55Z dg43tfdfdgfd