Sarawak tourism to forge ahead on its own, says Abdul Karim

Abdul Karim (third right) and others at the launch of Digital Tourism Forum 2018.

KUCHING, March 9: Sarawak will organise more high level tourism and sports events on its own, as the federal government and Tourism Malaysia are not doing much to promote Sarawak, said Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Speaking at the official opening of the Digital Tourism Forum 2018 today, Karim said Tourism Malaysia seems to promote Peninsular Malaysia more, such as Penang and Melaka, and Sarawak does not seem to be part of it.

“Unfortunately, some of the promotion done by Tourism Malaysia does not cover much on Sarawak. We cannot continue waiting for them, so we have to do this ourselves. We have also successfully bidded for many world events including sports, and you’ll be seeing many of them. We’ve inform Tourism Malaysia on this, and their response was we can organise events but we have to find our own budget. We are blessed in Sarawak, as the state government can allocate the budget for us to organise events,” Abdul Karim said.


He added that tourism is a rising economic sector which the state government is training its focus and emphasis on.

In 2017, Sarawak recorded 4.86 million visitor arrivals with a total spending of RM8.59 billion that accounted for 7.9 per cent of its GDP.

“We anticipate that tourist arrival will continue to increase and we have set a target of 5.25 million arrivals for 2018. Asean countries being our neighbours continue to be our top source of visitors which accounted for 48.98 per cent or 2.38 million arrivals in 2017,” he said.

Abdul Karim, who represented Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, also read out the latter’s speech text, saying that it is the state government’s hope that with the familiarisation visit by the various ambassadors and embassy officials and engagement sessions in the B2B sessions, they will be able to strengthen bilateral ties and partnership to boost tourism industries among Asean and other Asian regions.

“Under my leadership, Sarawak has embarked on a journey towards digitalising the economy. Digital economy is the way forward for Sarawak in order to be able to leapfrog towards a developed state status and high income economy by 2030.

“The tourism sector along with other sectors has to capitalise on digital technology to market tourism. We will have to plan and implement initiatives to boost the competitiveness of our tourism industry players in Sarawak, integrate them into global digital value chains and improve their ability and capability to create more business opportunities from digital tourism businesses.

“We should be looking seriously at digital marketing strategies, online reputation and use of social media and use of mobile phones throughout the customer experience. We should also be looking into regulations to ensure a level playing field, big data ownership and access to technology.

“As Sarawak leap-frogs to be a developed state in Malaysia, it is vital for the corporate sectors to facilitate and create platforms for Sarawak to share information, cross inspire, explore business opportunities and create bilateral trades with Asean and other countries in the region.

“It is therefore my fervent hope that the ACEA Digital Tourism Forum (DTF) could be a platform for us to start a smart partnership among Asean and the greater Asian regions in promoting digital tourism for our mutual growth and benefits,” Abang Johari said.

The DTF was organised by the Association of Chinese-Asean Entrepreneurs (ACEA), with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) as a strategic partner.

Delegates from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand as well as those from Australia and China attended the forum.

Ambassadors or representatives of the respective countries also shared their views on the topic ‘How the Digital Age Enhances and Impacts the Asean Tourism Industry: Promoting and Interacting across Asean, the World and Malaysia’. — DayakDaily