Minister hails Borneo Mazu Cultural Festival, riverine procession’s potential as key tourism magnet

Abdul Karim (fifth right) cutting a ribbon to release balloons when officiating at the Borneo Mazu Cultural Festival at Qing Shan Yen Temple in Muara Tebas on May 1, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 1: The Borneo Mazu Cultural Festival, featuring a riverine boat procession led by the Goddess of the Sea, offers a unique spectacle rarely witnessed elsewhere and holds great potential to become a vibrant attraction for Kuching City akin to the Rainforest World Music Festival (RMWF).

Expressing optimism, Minister of Tourism, Performing Arts, and Creative Industry Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, highlighted that the festival, centred around Taoist traditions, can draw visitors, considering that there are 300 million Mazu devotees around the world.


“We must acknowledge the idea put forth by (Pertubuhan Penyokong Rumah Berhala Tiong Hock Kiong chairman) Kho Kee Hua to have a river procession along the beautiful Sarawak River, which is seldom seen in other parts of the world.

“This can create vibrant festivities which can become an attraction for Kuching City in our efforts to ensure tourism in Sarawak continues to flourish,” he said when officiating at the inaugural Borneo Mazu Cultural Festival at Qing Shan Yen Temple in Muara Tebas today.

Recognising the substantial Mazu devotee base worldwide, particularly in Taiwan and China, Abdul Karim envisioned the festival’s potential for gradual expansion with effective promotion to draw participants eager to be part of the festival which in turn would contribute to Sarawak’s economy.

“Visitor arrivals and tourism receipts will fuel economic growth, benefiting various sectors including hospitality, food and beverage (F&B) sector, logistics, crafts, and so on,” he added.

He underscored the festival’s capacity to evolve into a significant event, akin to RWMF which began modestly 27 years ago with only 300 festival-goers and now draws over 20,000 attendees annually.

Abdul Karim also expressed satisfaction at Sarawak’s robust tourism performance in the first quarter of this year, with approximately 1.2 million visitors, surpassing expectations and instilling confidence in achieving the goal of welcoming four million visitors by the end of 2024.

He reaffirmed the Sarawak government’s and his ministry’s commitment to supporting and promoting such cultural and religious festivals, not only to boost the tourism industry but also to strengthen community bonds.

Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng, festival chief planning officer Sih Hua Tong, and Kuching Hokkien Association secretary Kapitan Tan Kok Chiang were among those present. — DayakDaily