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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, May 7: Tourist arrivals in Sarawak in 2018 decreased by 8.77 per cent as compared to the year before.
However, there was an increase in arrivals from China, up 15.24 per cent compared to 2017, followed by 3.69 per cent from Singapore.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state received a total of 4.43 million visitors in 2018, bringing in an estimated tourist receipt of RM7.95 billion.
“As of January to March this year, visitor arrivals to Sarawak was 1,117,843, which shows an increase of 3.93 per cent as compared to the corresponding period in 2018 (1,075,560).
“The top five sources of visitors for Sarawak are Brunei Darussalam (304,823), Indonesia (94,303), The Philippines (14,419), China (9,983) and Singapore (9,024),” he said in his winding-up speech at the State Assembly sitting today.
With the launching of Visit Sarawak Campaign on Dec 31 last year, he said his ministry was expecting a continuous growth in visitor arrivals, especially during the coming mid-year peak season.
The ministry, together with Sarawak Tourism Board and other agencies, would be stepping up efforts to position the state as a premier tourist destination, with the goal of registering 5 million visitor arrivals in 2019 and RM8.18 billion in tourism receipt.
On medical tourism, Abdul Karim said apart from experiencing steady growth, it was contributing lucrative opportunities to the local private hospitals and medical professionals and, at the same time, benefiting the tourism industry.
“In 2018, Sarawak recorded 48,900 healthcare visitors who came to Sarawak for health screening and medical treatment, which brings in total receipts of RM67.10 million. Majority of the healthcare visitors were from Pontianak and Jakarta, Indonesia, with a total number of 41,000 healthcare visitors in 2018.
With newly launched local private hospitals such as Borneo Medical Centre Miri, KPJ Specialist Hospital Miri and Miri Specialist Hospital, the ministry was expecting more foreign healthcare visitors coming to Sarawak.
As for homestay, the state government’s programme such as Cultural and Handicraft Workshops, Promotion Through Digital Media Program for Homestay Operators and Tourism Awareness Programs would further enhance its capacity building.
As for the year 2018, a total of 33,613 tourists visited homestays with total receipts of RM4,348,488.81.
This year, an additional two new homestays were registered. They are Homestay Kedaya Telang Usan in Baram and Homestay Pusa in Betong, making it a total of 43 registered homestays with 606 operators throughout Sarawak.
“As tourism is a frontline service sector, it needs to lead the way, where hospitality matters most. Therefore, it is important to closely monitor and continuously enhance both the level and quality of performance in the tourism sector,” he said.
He said the ministry had identified a series of training and courses targeting tourism stakeholders in the state.
Among them are Safety & Life Saving Training, Service Excellence Training, Event Management Training and Service Delivery Training.
To increase the number of qualified Mandarin-speaking park guides, Abdul Karim said his ministry, in collaboration with Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), had organised Mandarin-speaking Park Guide Training from Aug 4 to Sept 28, 2018, attended by 41 participants. — DayakDaily