State sets sights on 5.2 million tourist arrivals, RM9.82 billion in tourism receipts next year

Assistant Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin (second left) presents the award for the best five star hotel to Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa general manager Marc Cosyns at the 7th Hornbill Tourism Awards Gala Dinner.

KUCHING, Nov 25: Sarawak targets 5.2 million tourist arrivals with an expected RM9.82 billion in tourism receipts in 2018 with the improvement of flight connectivity.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said Sarawakians would see three direct international flights start next month and the state is hopeful to have another two direct flights to one or two cities in China next year.

The international flights that will begin next month include the Kuching–Shenzhen direct flight on Dec 26 and Bintulu-Singapore direct flight on Dec 27.

The Kuching-Shenzhen direct flight operates daily from Kuching to Shenzhen at 10.45pm and departs from Shenzhen to Kuching at 3.50am, while the Bintulu–Singapore direct flight operates four times a week, which are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing from Singapore at 9.10am and departing from Bintlu at 11.25am. Both routes are operated by AirAsia.

Indonesia airline XpressAir will fly from Miri direct to Pontianak beginning Dec 12, which will depart from Pontianak at 1.25pm and leave Miri at 4.50pm, twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday.

In Abdul Karim’s speech, read out by Assistant Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin at the 7th Hornbill Tourism Awards Gala Dinner, it was also pointed out that the state had 3.72 million visitors for the first nine months this year, which saw a9.81 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Abdul Karim said that tourism industry was very competitive, influenced by the world economy, regional and political issues, and that international flight connectivity remains a challenge in the state.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg urged tourism industry players to make use of community marketing in the new age of digital economy to enhance their products.

He said Sarawak, with its rich natural resources, has lots to offer and he had promoted the digital economy in many sectors, such as tourism and service industry, since he became chief minister to bring the state forward. — DayakDaily