Abdul Karim: Direct South Korean-Kuching flights being explored

From left: Fazruddin, Abdul Karim, and Snowdan at a press conference this morning.

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KUCHING: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah is looking into the viability of a South Korea-Kuching direct flight.

He said the government has been looking into the possibility of linking directly with other big cities including those in China and South Korea through direct flights.

“One (step) at a time. We will be having a direct flight from China this December. There will be a Shenzhen-Kuching flight.

“We are still looking into other big cities in China. We are also negotiating with Thai Air now.

“Definitely Korea will be our focus also. (It is) in the pipeline. But then, it will have to come one (step) at a time, because if we manage to secure too many at a time and we are not prepared down here, the tourists that come here will go out from here with bad memories,” said Abdul Karim in a media conference at the Baitulmakmur Complex here this morning.

He stressed that he wanted Sarawak tourism to grow in a steady and healthy way where the state could maximise the influx of tourists while at the same time, minimise negative impact.

“So we will have to do it one (step) at a time. And also we do not want to have (too many tourists) to rush, to come by all these aggressive promotions. The price of goods will go up also. You go to Sabah, the price of seafood, the locals cannot afford. So we have to do it slowly,” said Abdul Karim.

On Sarawak’s friendship and goodwill exchanges and interactions with South Korea, Karim said the delegation which is schedule to perform on Oct 29 at the Charity Football Festival here is not the first.

“Before this, there was a TV reality show that brought in artistes to play golf in KGS (Sarawak Golf Club) and it was shown on Korean TV,” said Abdul Karim.

He said such interactions have been good for Sarawak as they served to promote the state as the shows might raise the curiosity of the Koreans when Sarawak’s natural scenery was showcased.

“If there is further promotion after that, if there is a direct flight, well, they (Korean tourists) might want to come. We are hoping to bring in more packages whether by scheduled flights or by non-scheduled flights from Korea,” said Abdul Karim.

He added that golf is a popular sport in South Korea, with their women among the top players in the world.

“Korea is a nation so crazy about golf. They top the women’s golf in the world. That is also one of the areas we are looking at. When it is winter, those who love golf can come down to Sarawak,” he said.

Apart from the favourable weather all year round, he said another of Sarawak’s attractions is the cheap fees charged by local golf clubs which Sarawak may use to entice golfers from South Korea, Northern China and Japan.

Also present at the press conference were Assistant Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Snowdan Lawan and Tupong assemblyman Fazruddin Abdul Rahman who is also Kuching FA chairman.