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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Mar 2: The new Sia Sitok Sarawak 2.0 will see 60 domestic tourism packages for locals and non-Sarawakian staying in the state to discover.
Set to launch on March 31 this year, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the 2.0 version promises to offer wider range of domestic tour packages.
The Sia Sitok Sarawak launched in July last year was an initiative to bolster the tourism industry after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the state in March.
Together with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and collaborating with the private sectors, Abdul Karim said this will create more interest among its locals to travel widely in the state while benefiting the tour industry as a whole.
“The programme has generated more than RM 1.56 million in sales for 941 tour packages and 5,668 pax.
“In 2020, visitor arrivals to Sarawak had dropped 74 percent to 1,199,872 as compared to the corresponding period in 2019 (4,662,419) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The tourism receipt had declined 75 percent to RM2.88 billion as compared to the same corresponding period in 2019,” he said during Kuching Metro electric city bus launch this morning.
The pandemic had overall caused an estimated total loss of RM8.69 billion in the tourism industry.
Nevertheless, he is optimistic that the state can still revive its tourism industry by boosting the domestic tourism activities with the Sia Sitok Sarawak Tour Package because it has generated overwhelming response and enhance the confidence of the people to travel domestically while the borders are still closed.
“With the availability of Covid-19 vaccination, domestic travel within Malaysia and Sarawak is expected to slowly recover in the second half of 2021 anticipating a total visitor arrival of 1.1 million with an estimated tourism receipt of RM2.64 billion receipt. However, this estimated target will depend very much on the Covid-19 global situation.
“So it is our hope that all the policies, directions and strategies can be transformed into opportunities and initiatives in particular the local communities to be benefited in the future. The local communities can participate in community-based tourism such as homestay, local hosts, craft and souvenirs making to reap the benefits from tourism especially in raising their household income,” Karim added.
The current Sia Sitok program which will end on March 31 this year consist of some 30 packages with 50 percent discount to destinations such as Bako National Park, jungle trek with homestay in Bengoh Valley, Matang Telaga Air, Kuching Wetlands and tours such as frog and bird watching, irrawaddy dolphin watching or Sarawak river sunset cruise.
Besides creating interest for locals to explore tourism in own ‘backyard’, Karim asserted that this campaign will assist with the ministry’s rehabilitation plans to revive the local tourism industry.
It is also a good way of sustaining and maintaining the tourism eco-system for the industry players such as tour and park guides, drivers, operators and restaurants during these challenging times. — DayakDaily