Abdul Karim urges focus on domestic tourism as Sarawak targets 1.2 million visitor arrivals in 2022

Abdul Karim (seated centre) in a photo with his team at the MTCP Strategic Retreat 2022. Also seen are (seated from left) Hii, Snowdan, Ting, and Salmah.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Jan 22: Sarawak is targeting to receive 1.2 million visitor arrivals this year as borders reopen while health and safety protocols are further relaxed.

Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts (MTCP) Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah reported that visitor arrivals in Sarawak had jumped more than 500 per cent in December 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

“It is hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic will move into endemic soon as we are optimistic that the tourism and creative industry will be fully recovered by the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024.

“We are looking forward to the new year of 2022 with positive outlooks. Ease of health and safety protocols as Sarawak enters Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) will help the tourism and creative sectors to recover,” he said in addressing the MTCP Strategic Retreat 2022 held at Waterfront Hotel today.

With increased flight frequencies into Sarawak from 307 to 562 per week, he said the focus on domestic tourism and home-grown business events should continue by engaging the industry players through various incentives and programmes.

“We have just launched the Sia Sitok Plus Campaign in Kuala Lumpur last week in collaboration with Malaysia Airlines as a continuation to Sia Sitok 1.0, 2.0, and Sia Sitok Accommodation to incentivise domestic tourism.

“We should also discuss with the relevant authorities and countries so that the Vaccinated Travel Lane or VTL could be implemented to open Sarawak’s border to regional countries, with probably Singapore as a start followed by Brunei and Indonesia,” he added.

Abdul Karim delivering his message during the MTCP Strategic Retreat 2022.

In addition, Abdul Karim, who is also Minister for Youth, Sports, and Entrepreneur Development (MYSED), urged the two ministries under his leadership to work closely in promoting and developing the tourism and creative industries.

“The two ministries are very much associated. Therefore, youth and local entrepreneurs should be encouraged to participate,” he said.

He commended the ministry and its agencies, including Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB), Sarawak Museum Department (SMD), Sarawak Arts Council (SAC), and Sarawak Craft Council (SCC), for not slowing down, and trying their best to review its directions and strategies to help the tourism, arts, and culture industries to weather the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic and re-emerge from difficult times.

“Coming up with Sarawak’s Third Tourism Masterplan 2021-2035 during the pandemic was indeed timely given the changing tourism landscape, especially with the impact of the pandemic and in line with the Sarawak Post-Covid-19 Development Strategies 2030,” he added.

Despite the renaming of the ministry, Abdul Karim said it would not affect its scope and coverage, which will continue to uphold its vision to ensure that Sarawak becomes a premier tourism destination and a unique showcase of Sarawak’s arts, culture and heritage.

“I have full confidence that MTCP and its agencies are on the right path to lead the tourism and creative industry towards recovery after two years of the pandemic,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Sebastian Ting, Assistant Minister for Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Snowdan Lawan, MTCP permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, and deputy permanent secretary Salmah Jobeli were among those present. — DayakDaily