STB intensifies efforts to bring in tourists, counter Tourism Tax impact

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Sitting, November 2017

KUCHING, Nov 15: The introduction of the Tourism Tax Act which took effect on Sept 1 this year has created a drawback for Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) as Sarawak has become less competitive compared to other emerging destinations in the region.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said in response to this, STB has increased its marketing activities in all markets to remain relevant especially in capitalising on digital marketing platforms.

“STB has upgraded its four major websites to be better and more user-friendly sites. Facebook marketing has greater emphasis for the older executives and other social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, WeChat and Weibo for the younger millennials. For the Greater China market, Baidu which is equivalent to the Google search engine in China has been subscribed to to provide greater Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on Sarawak.

“As for the English markets, STB continues to invest in travel platforms such as Trip Advisor, Expedia and Travel Port to reach out to a broader market and audience,” Abdul Karim said at the State Legislative Assembly today.

STB also participated in eight major consumer fairs locally and abroad. Among the notable fairs were the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and Malaysia Inbound Travel Association (MITA) fair in Kuala Lumpur, Brunei Travel Fair, Flight Centre Expo and Australasia Birding Fair in Australia, ASTINDO fair in Jakarta and International Travel Fair in Taiwan. Overall, STB’s participation in these fairs has generated around RM2.1 million in total package sales.

“To ensure growing business and tourist arrivals to meet the state target, STB also participated in nine major international trade fairs including World Travel Market in London, International Tourism Bourse in Germany, ASEAN Tourism Forum in Singapore, ROUTES Asia in Japan and Tunas Tunggal Cemerlang in Indonesia.

“Arising from participation in these international fairs, a series of familiarisation trips were organised throughout the year, and the agents that participated were from, amongst others, China, Germany, France, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam,” Abdul Karim said.

STB bas also been tasked to facilitate and support any airlines that show interest to fly into Sarawak.

AirAsia recently launched its daily Kuching-Pontianak-Kuching, Langkawi-Kuching-Langkawi routes, and confirmed flying a Shenzhen-Kuching-Shenzhen route. Scoot Airlines has also launched its Singapore-Kuching-Singapore route, replacing Silkair. — DayakDaily