Penampang: Ukraine wants to learn from Sabah's best practices in developing its eco-tourism products and attracting foreign tourists in huge numbers.
Being a country known for its Unesco World Heritage Sites, Ukraine aims to take its tourism industry to greater heights and believes it is possible by learning how Sabah has done it.
"This is one area that we can learn from Sabah because it has been very successful in attracting foreign tourists," said the country's Ambassador to Malaysia, Olexander Nechytaylo.
He is currently in the State with his wife, Triana, to experience the State level Harvest Festival celebration at Hongkod Koisaan for the first time. The couple attended both the opening and closing ceremonies of the annual celebration.
He is also scheduled to meet Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
"Our country looks forward to building a new chapter of relationship with the State Government.
For me, I look forward to meeting the new Chief Minister to congratulate him on his appointment," said Nechytaylo, who made his first visit to the State last year.
He believes that the relationship between Ukraine and Malaysia will be further strengthened under the leadership of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"Mahathir made an official visit to Ukraine in July 2003. So, we look forward to continuing this friendly relationship," he said.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries was established on March 3, 1992, and Malaysia was among the first countries to recognise the independence of Ukraine.
He pointed out that Malaysia is fast becoming one of the countries that more Ukranians would want to visit, with the numbers growing between 10 to 15 per cent in recent years.
Last year, he said more than 15,000 of his countrymen visited Malaysia.
At the same time, he hopes more Malaysians would visit Ukraine, an East European country, which offers many exciting places.
"During the recent European Championship final held in Kiev, we had a group of 50 Malaysian soccer fans coming to see the match. Most of them were Liverpool supporters," he said.
Other than tourism, Nechytaylo also hopes to see a revival of cooperation in the area of education.
In a previous interview with him, Nechytaylo had said that Ukraine has so much to offer, particularly in the fields of engineering, aerospace, medical science and Information Technology.
He said Ukraine was part of the Bologna Process, which is a series of ministerial meetings and agreements between European countries to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher-education qualifications. - Leonard Alaza