By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Nov 22: Sarawak has a lot of tourism growth potential because is has what many other states in the country do not have.
Tourism Productivity Nexus chairman Uzaidi Udanis opined that Sarawak had what most tourists would want to experience and see in a tourist destination, namely nature and native culture.
“I was involved in tourism since 1985-86. That time, Sarawak was just a huge… that’s where the place the ‘Mat Salleh’ (white men) all want to go to longhouses. They want to go to the Skrang River. They want to go to see the orang utans. Sarawak is the first choice for them,” he told a press conference after the opening ceremony of the Showcasing Tourism Products Sarawak programme at a hotel here today.
But fierce competition from other states, notably from Sabah, caused Sarawak’s tourism industry to lag behind slightly.
Uzaidi, however, believed that there is still hope for Sarawak’s tourism to boom again because of its uniqueness.
“I believe Sarawak can become as one of the prime destinations because we have a lot of assets and products here that we can improve because tourists don’t just want destinations — they want to experience. They want to come here and experience.
“For example, I just came back from World Travel Month in London, where we had discussions with operators and wholesalers there. They said this year is very bad for East Asia because they have a long summer. When they have a long summer, they prefer to stay at home. They don’t want to go far. They have good sun and summer. This year is the best summer they have ever had.
“So, I think in the future, we can’t just sell some sea and beaches. We want to experience. When tourists come here, they want the experience. So, we have to create products they can experience in the longhouse,” he suggested.
Uzaidi also mentioned that with the influx of millennial tourists to the region lately, this would be an opportunity for Sarawak to shine as these millennial tourists have more money to spend.
The Showcasing Tourism Products Sarawak programme is a collaboration between Malaysian Productivity Council (MPC) and Tourism Productivity Nexus to identify and to promote new and existing tourism products in the state as well as to showcase the uniqueness of other states in the country and the nation’s symbolic identity.
Some 80 tourism industry players from the peninsula and 100 from the state participated in the programme.
Earlier, MPC Board of Directors member Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg hoped that the programme would enable Sarawak tourism industry players to tap their full potential not only in terms of networking and knowledge sharing with their peninsula counterparts but also by embracing the current technology and trends affecting the industry.
“One thing I must stress on is for you to embrace technology, especially now that we are entering the Industry 4.0 Revolution.
“I also hope the programme will help our (Sarawak) tourism players to become more competitive and maximise their opportunities through knowledge and information sharing with their counterparts,” he said. — DayakDaily