KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor's visit to Shenzhen in China last year drew a crowd of 1,024 visitors to the state.

Dubbed as the 44th International Tea Gathering, the event, organised by Hangjia Tea-dao Research Society, saw representatives from China, Taiwan, the United States, and more.

The person in charge of the event, Datuk Lee Jack Son, said that the entourage came to Sabah for the cultural exchange and to explore the state.

"This initiative stemmed from the Chief Minister's visit to Shenzhen in November last year. His visit triggered the community to visit Sabah," he told the media at a hotel last night.

Their itinerary, which began on Saturday and will continue until next Thursday, includes exploring tea and the mountains in Ranau, Mantanani Island in Kota Belud, and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in Kota Kinabalu.

Lee also suggested that the trip might open up commercialisation opportunities, especially if the group could blend tea from Sabah with those from China.

Deputy Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Chan Foong Hin and Hangjia Tea-Dao Research Society President Ho Tsai Ping, were present at the event.

Chan, who also serves as Kota Kinabalu member of parliament, highlighted that the entourage of tea enthusiasts is making a significant contribution to Sabah's tourism industry.

"This is the third time the group has visited Malaysia. Previously, they had programmes in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

"Initially, they planned to visit Bali, but they chose Sabah instead. If each visitor spends RM3,000 during their trip here, this program definitely demonstrates great potential for tourism."

Regarding the international tea festival held last night, Chan expressed that it was eye-opening, as he had never witnessed an event where thousands of people drink tea together.

He also added that in Malaysia, the tea-drinking culture, such as teh tarik, kopitiam, and the afternoon tea lifestyle, is influenced by people of various racial backgrounds.




Sumber : New Straits Times