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Luxury tours put eastern Sabah on Borneo's ecotourist map

Malaysian state hopes to divert visitors from Kota Kinabalu to rainforest

Wild Borneo pygmy elephants take up residence on the grounds of Sabah Softwoods. (Courtesy of Shavez Cheema)

LAHAD DATU, Malaysia -- With hundreds of kilometers of beaches and tropical islands, and a forested interior teeming with wildlife such as orangutans, sun bears and pygmy elephants, the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo is a tourism hot spot.

In 2018, Sabah's tourism revenue was the highest of any Malaysian state at 8.3 billion ringgit ($2 billion) with a record 3.9 million arrivals, including half a million Chinese. The state welcomed 1.03 million visitors in the first quarter of 2019 -- up 9% on the same period last year, according to the Sabah Tourism Board (STB).

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