Sarawak gearing up for more ‘quality tourists’

Abdul Karim points to a poster of the Visit Sarawak campaign after announcing its official launching ceremony on New Year’s Eve at the Kuching Waterfront.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Dec 20: Sarawak is eyeing more quality tourists to form the bulk of its five million tourist arrivals target next year with the launching of the Visit Sarawak campaign.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the campaign, to be launched on New Year’s Eve at the Kuching Waterfront, would set the tone for its marketing push and promotional activities with the theme ‘More to discover’.

“The Visit Sarawak campaign is very important in our effort to bring in more tourists. This campaign will run for several years as opposed to the ‘visit Sarawak year’ kind of concept. We don’t want to end the campaign within a year.

“A series of programmes and festivities will be announced to entice tourists to come over, and 2019 will be an exciting year for tourism. We have to be prepared,” he told a press conference on the New Year countdown celebration and launching of Visit Sarawak campaign here today.

Abdul Karim said quality tourists, who normally stay at their destinations for days, would spend and contribute more towards the local economy.

For next year, the state is aiming for more quality tourists from European countries, China and India, among others.

“Last year, the state recorded 4.2 million tourist arrivals, and we expect to achieve 4.5 million this year. In the long run, five million is our main target, and we are getting closer each year.

“This year, we also recorded a 20 per cent increase in the number of quality tourists, mainly from China and those coming via Singapore,” he said.

He added that the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) had been aggressive in their campaign to promote Visit Sarawak. The agency has been on the move, running promotions in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, London and currently in Shenzhen, China.

“We will have cultural, food and music festivals lined up across the state in addition to sporting events, our annual Rainforest World Music Festival and ecotourism niche products.

“In fact, the first major tourism event in the state is coming next month (January), where Kuching will play host to the 23rd Asian Television Awards,” he pointed out.

Abdul Karim said Sarawak would continue to pursue increasing flight connectivity to increase tourist arrivals. Royal Brunei Airlines will start a twice-weekly flight between Bandar Seri Begawan and Kuching on Dec 28. In February, the flight is scheduled to increase to four times weekly.

“The impact of these flights will go beyond Brunei, as Royal Brunei has launched international routes such as Hong Kong, Melbourne and London. They will soon penetrate China and the Asia Pacific destinations as well,” he continued.

Abdul Karim said the government would increase flight connectivity to the state gradually to ensure that tourism players, including the service and hospitality industry, could cope with the number of visitors. — DayakDaily