Sarawak expects more foreign tourist arrivals via Brunei gateway

Abdul Karim (fourth right) receiving a souvenir from the interns from Germany.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 25: Sarawak is looking forward to welcoming more visitors and tourists entering the state via Brunei with Bandar Seri Begawan-Bintulu and Bandar Seri Begawan-Sibu flight routes expected to commence end of October.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah gave assurance that efforts to increase flight connectivity to Kuching and other cities in Sarawak were progressing well.


“Royal Brunei (Airlines) will commence the Bandar Seri Begawan to Bintulu and Bandar Seri Begawan to Sibu end of October, apart from the daily flights from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching,” he told a press conference today.

“Brunei, a rich nation with small land mass, is aggressively promoting their tourism. So visitors from China, Korea, Japan, Australia and Europe can fly to Brunei and come to Sarawak anytime,” he said.

Abdul Karim emphasised that Sarawak can no longer just rely on flight connectivity from Kuala Lumpur alone but must actively strategise and engage with potential airlines to provide connectivity to Kuching and Sarawak as a whole.

“We will see more tourists coming in through Brunei. They (visitors) may not be Bruneian as the ones coming in that we are arranging for are mostly foreign visitors,” he added.

Apart from Royal Brunei Airlines, Abdul Karim disclosed that Sarawak can expect more good news once the stakeholders have inked the agreement.

“It will be soon, early November (that we are looking at establishing direct flights) from Shenzhen to Kuching,” he said.

“I’ll announce later but these are among the routes we are working on. We are also negotiating for the Kuching-Jakarta route now… that’s coming up also but (wait) until the agreement has been signed,” he added.

Abdul Karim (right) sharing with the interns the content of a book about Sarawak food and culture which was presented to them as souvenirs.

Abdul Karim said the efforts by the ministry to enhance flight connectivity to Sarawak were in line with the state government’s aspiration to set up its own airline.

“We will start small and hopefully this can take off next year. Things are progressing so we hope those in the tourism industry will take good care and build up the places of interests for visitors and tourists,” he said.

He also highlighted the need to upkeep the cleanliness of public toilets throughout the state especially Kuching.

Earlier on, Abdul Karim received a courtesy call from interns from Germany who have completed training stints with selected private companies in Kuching under the International Cultural Exchange Programme.

The programme between Germany and Sarawak was initiated following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethos Connect and IHK PG Ostbrandenburg with objectives in promoting education, training, sports, tourism and cultural exchanges.

“I encouraged such internship exchanges. This is the first but definitely not the last. From what I gathered from the interns, they have enjoyed their stay here,” he said.

“The only unfortunate part was the time they are here, the haze was also here, which will not give a good impression as the state government is very concerned about our environment and natural surroundings,” he added.

Abdul Karim however hoped the interns have learnt a lot about Sarawak, its culture, the people as well as the warm hospitality so to bring home good memories with them.

He hoped these kinds of exchanges will continue to create greater awareness about Sarawak as well as understanding of different people and cultures to make the world a better place. — DayakDaily