KOTA KINABALU - Two recent New York Times (NYT) reports on Sabah are likely to give a much-needed boost to efforts to woo Americans to the state.
The stories written by NYT's investigative writer Ian Urbina that appeared on Feb 12 and 18 were deemed positive for Sabah, said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
"This is a good promotion to Americans who have never heard of Kota Kinabalu, or still undecided whether to visit the state," he said, adding that he hoped the article would let Americans know that Kota Kinabalu is an exotic destination that is a good alternative to other more well-known destinations.
He also commended the writer for commenting about the negative side of the city that he saw while travelling here last August and November.
"The report reminds us of one of our biggest challenges in tourism - cleanliness. We need to think of better ways to keep the city and our sea clean," said Masidi.
"We also need to improve our sewerage system," he said in referring to the instance where the writer noted the occasionally "rancid stench" on the city waterfront, a clear suggestion that there is untreated sewage being discharged into the bay.
Masidi said the articles debunk perceptions that the whole of Sabah was unsafe to visit.
"It shows that Sabah is not just about Sipadan Island, off the east coast district of Semporna. It has many awesome attractions even within the capital itself," he said.
Urbina described the City Mosque situated near Likas Bay here as "majestic", and he also had his first tangle with our durian, which he described as "a slimy fruit which tasted like mushy, spoiled onion".
The writer also commented on the multiracial makeup of Sabah's society, and appeared to enjoy the natural attractions around Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi,and Pulau Manukan.
The said articles can be read for free from the NYT website.