Golf tour operators name Sabah as future hot spot

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Malaysia’s most eastern state of Sabah has been pinpointed by a group of visiting golf tour operators as a future major attraction for golf tourism in South East Asia.

“The golf is great, but what is also appealing about Sabah is the nature,”

Sabah is strongly on the radar as an international golf tourism destination following a visit by 33 European, Chinese and Australian golf tour operators.

The visitors, who spent three days in Sabah immediately before last week’s Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC) in Kuala Lumpur, came away highly enthusiastic about the East Malaysian state’s golf and broad tourism attractions.

“The golf is great, but what is also appealing about Sabah is the nature,” said German tour operator, Manfred Rauno. “Sabah isn’t known in Europe, but when people learn about the wonderful plants, animals and natural attractions – as well as the golf – I am sure they will want to come.”

Australian tour operator, Fred Sparksman, whose Golf and Gourmet tours combine golf with gourmet dining and other eclectic experiences, said Sabah compared more than favourably with other Asian golf destinations. He said it was ideal for six-night stay-and-play packages.

“I was especially impressed with the Shangri-La Rasa Ria and Sutera Harbour Resort,” he said. “The Ocean Wing at the Shangri-La is wonderful and combined with the orang-utan sanctuary, beach and dining, there’s a lot to attract visiting golfers.”

He said the Dalit Bay golf course was challenging, but playable for average golfers.

“The courses and resort facilities at Sutera Harbour are also impressive, and being so close to Kota Kinabalu is a definite plus,” he added.

Both Manfred Rauno and Fred Sparksman said they saw Sabah as an add-on destination for golf tourists visiting Singapore, the Malay peninsular and other South East Asian markets, rather than as a purely stand-alone option.

“It’s a long way from Europe, but combined with major cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, it’s a great fit,” Manfred Rauno said.

Liberty Travel and Tours’ general manager, Eu Shen Ng, who organised the tour operators’ visit to Sabah as a prelude to AGTC, said there was widespread agreement that Sabah’s golf facilities are at least as good as others on the Malay peninsula.

“There is a lot of potential to increase golf tourism to Sabah,” he said. “The tour operators really loved their time there. They were very excited, especially about the orang-utan sanctuary and Sabah’s other natural attractions.

“Both the Sabah Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia have done a good job promoting Sabah. The product is excellent. Sabah just needs more word-of-mouth endorsement and more golf visitors will come.”

For more information on golf tourism to Sabah, visit



Paul Myers
Asian Travel Media

+66 84 125 1894 (Thailand)
+61 407 738 453 (Australia)

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Paul Myers