Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has rebranded its destination to Feel Sabah, North Borneo in a bid to emphasise the location of Sabah in the northern part of Borneo Island, and attract more European tourists.
Launching this rebranding exercise at ITB Berlin 2023, minister of tourism, culture and environment, Christina Liew, said: “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.”
She explained that there are people around the world who have not heard about Sabah despite years of promoting the destination and its “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,” stated Liew, adding that Sabah is home to natural wonders such as Mount Kinabalu, Maliau Basin and Tip of Borneo.
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 45.35 per cent compared with 1.72 million arrivals in 2022.”
She shared that based on data from 2019, the top feeder markets comprised visitors from Taiwan, China, Brunei, Singapore and South Korea, while the top inbound tourism markets from Europe came from Germany, France, Netherlands and Italy.
Liew added that plans are afoot to explore prospects of luring tourists from new tourism markets in the US, Australia, Japan and India via tourism roadshows by STB.