Update on West Malaysian, Sabahan tourist arrivals to be announced soon

Sharzede (fifth left) poses for a photo-op with the winners of 'Best Dressed of the Evening'.

SIBU,Dec 22: An announcement will be made soon on when West Malaysians and Sabahan tourists will be allowed to enter the state.

Speaking at a media night hosted by Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) last night, its vice-chairman, Hii Chang Kee said the arrival of visitors would boost the state tourism industry which had been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He pointed out the number of tourist arrivals plunged by 71 per cent this year compared to 2019 which recorded a total of 4.66 million tourist arrivals. This year, only about 1.2 million are expected.

He noted that in order to boost the industry next year, tourism players in the state will need to relook at new opportunities available.

“We encourage tour operators to relook at opportunities such as Sia Sitok, a campaign to boost the state’s tourism efforts and activities. The campaign will allow Sarawakians and non-Sarawakians residing in Sarawak with work permits to experience and enjoy the beauty the state has to offer at substantial discounts of up to 50 per cent,” he said.

As for tourism players in the central region, Hii advised them to offer inbound tours instead of more traditional packages which bring locals out to West Malaysia, Sabah and overseas.

“We encourage all tour operators in the central region to not only look at outbound tours but also at inbound ones by bringing in people from outside the state and country. The number of operators here doing inbound tours are only a handful, less than three,” he added.

He also called on them to promote Sibu as a gateway to the central region and not just the town alone.

“I always tell local tourism industry players to not only promote Sibu town alone but as a gateway to the central region. When people come here, they can have a lot of choices. They can go to Sarikei, Kapit, Mukah and even Betong which is nearer to Sibu than Kuching,” he said.

Hii believed that the soon-to-be completed Sibu-Kapit Road presents a great opportunity for operators to promote domestic tourism.

Among those present at the event were STB chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor and board member Ngui Ing Ing. — DayakDaily