By THE STAR
SABAH’S rapid growth as an international tourism destination is fuelling the development of more international-class resorts and other real estate facilities.
If the momentum picks up, there will be more resorts joining the four main ones in Kota Kinabalu now – Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort, Shangri-La Dalit Bay Resort, Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa, and Nexus Resort Karambunai.
Sabah is blessed with abundant natural attractions such as Mount Kinabalu (the highest peak in South-East Asia), the world’s oldest rainforest and one of the world’s best diving spots, Sipadan.
Hotel occupancy rates and room rates have already been showing impressive growth in the last two years.
According to Karambunai Corp Bhd chief operating officer Datuk Robin Loh, most of the 5-star hotels register year to-date occupancy rates in the high 70% and will be overbooked during the peak season.
“Europeans, Australians, Koreans and people from Hong Kong are the main tourist groups coming to Kota Kinabalu.
“Being a leading tourism player in Sabah, we see great opportunities ahead and the additional rooms at our Karambunai project augur well for the company,” Loh told StarBiz. Ireka Corp Bhd executive director Lai Voon Hon attributed the state’s robust tourism sector to the much-improved international air link, which explained why the Kota Kinabalu Airport is now the country’s second busiest airport, after the KL International Airport.
There are 79 direct flights a week to Kota Kinabalu from many international cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xian.
With the current expansion of the Kota Kinabalu international airport, there will be more flight arrivals from abroad.
Through Brunei Airport, it also has easy link to Europe, Australia and the rest of the world.
“Sabah is now quite popular among the Koreans, Taiwanese and Japanese. Many of them stay here for long periods during the winter months. The Europeans, especially Scandinavians and Australians, are the main groups that visited many eco-tourist destinations in Sabah,” Lai said.
With affordable air-link by AirAsia to Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, there is also an increasingly bigger number of visitors from Peninsular Malaysia.
World-class resort operator Karambunai owns 1,500 acres of pristine beaches in Kota Kinabalu. Nexus Resort Karambunia boasts a vast tropical forest complete with a world-class golf resort and lagoon.
Loh said with its diversified infrastructure, the resort leads in the incentive and corporate markets as well as catering to a broad spectrum of customers from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China.
Nexus Resort and Nexus Residences have collectively achieved over RM100mil in revenue.
“The company’s revenues and earnings will see strong growth, as Nexus Resort continues to increase its room rates and profits, and new phases of Nexus Residences will be launched.”
Sales of luxury villas at Nexus Residences and revenue from Nexus Golf Resort and Spa will be the main contributors to the company’s revenue.
The Nexus Residences is expected to yield a gross development value of over RM2bil.
In less than two years after the launch of its first phase, the 243 villas with gross sales value of RM270mil are 85% taken up. The buyers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe and other countries are mostly participants in the Malaysia My Second Home programme.
With the completion of the units, Nexus will have some 1,000 rooms from the leaseback of its hotel operations.
Karambunai is also a major developer in Kota Kinabalu via its 168ha mixed residential and commercial development in Bandar Sierra.
Located in the northern growth area of Kota Kinabalu, Bandar Sierra is about 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre and is well poised to ride on the strong demand for residential and commercial properties in the capital city.