By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, May 6: At best, Sarawak can expect about half of the RM8 billion in tourism receipts this year due to the devastating effect of Covid-19 pandemic, said Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
To address the long-term effect of the pandemic, he will be meeting tourism players this afternoon to chart the way forward for the tourism industry.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have to strategise those tourism products and promotions that we have, including for overseas and all that, have to be adjusted.
“These two months (February-March) was very bad for the tourism sector and they are suffering. But I’m looking forward to the unconditional lifting (of the CMCO). We can’t go on like this for months and months,” he said, acknowledging that the Covid-19 outbreak has shown a lessening impact in infections.
“But due to the Covid-19, our visitors’ arrival probably would be half of what we have for last year. We can say that the (tourism) receipt will be about half of what we expected,” Karim told the media after attending the post-Covid-19 exit economic strategy up to 2030 plan at Wisma Bapa Malaysia today.
However, Abdul Karim was optimistic that the tourism industry will bounce back in the one to one and a half years’ time.
“So, our first focus will be to get rid of that fear of travelling within Malaysia. That’s why the promotion of people to move will be confined domestically and with nearby countries such as Brunei, Singapore. Because they also want to travel during school holidays.
Additionally, he stressed that Sarawak needed to work closely with the neighbouring countries to gain their confidence.
“And we have to build that confidence and we have to work together with the local tourism players such as the tourism promoters, hotels how we can entice them to come over here.
“At the same time, we have to upgrade a lot of facilities. I am glad that by the end of this year we will have a new museum. That will be part of the tourism package that we can people to come over. If we can get more people from west Malaysia, that is also very good because they have to stay in the hotel. And they have to eat and the transport companies will also benefit. So we will discuss it in depth this afternoon,” he explained.
In order to gain the confidence of the visitors, Abdul Karim also hoped for public cooperation to make sure that they practice social distancing and good hygiene to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the long run.
Meanwhile, Abdul Karim revealed that due to the current CMCO, the new Sarawak Museum Campus will be ready for public viewing in the first quarter of 2021.
The RM308 million project is currently undergoing fittings and once completed, it will be the second biggest in Southeast Asia.—DayakDaily