(From second left) Sherrina, Lau, Chieng, Sebastian, Ting, Abdul Karim, and Zuraini are seen in a group photo. – Photo by Conny Banji
SIBU (July 24): Sarawak’s tourism industry is already back on track based on visitor arrivals recorded from January until June this year, said Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
The Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts said the number of arrivals was around the same as within the same period in 2018 and 2019 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Statistics available on the ministry’s website show Sarawak received a total of 1.957 million tourists from January until June this year.
In 2018 and 2019, the state received a total of 4.430 million and 4.662 million tourists respectively.
“We do not have problems with tourist arrivals now because from what I can see we have got back to pre-Covid-19 days.
“From the numbers of tourist arrivals from January until June this year, we can see the numbers are more or less the same with the numbers we see in 2018 and 2019.
“Basically, we are already back on track. I have no complaints on the numbers of visitor arrivals because they are up to our expectations,” he said when officiating at the closing of the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) 2023 here last night.
Abdul Karim said the state should exceed its target of three million tourist arrivals for this year.
He said presently in Kuching, there are so many events that it is often difficult for visitors to get a hotel room.
“This coming week, we will have the national-level International Museum Day from July 31 to Aug 6, which will involve all states in the country. We will have thousands of participants converging in Kuching for the event.
“Kuching will play host to the Asean International Film Festival from Aug 2 until 4, where local and international artistes from Southeast Asia will gather. South Korean star Rain is also coming to Kuching in the first week of August and he is expected to bring along his friends and fans to Kuching.
“These events will continue until the end of the year where we will have the Dragon Boat Race and Sarawak Regatta. We do hope many of those coming down to Kuching will also go to other places in Sarawak to extend their holidays,” he said.
He noted that Sibu could be promoted for eco-tourism with the availability of the Sibu-Kapit road linking the town to the hinterlands of the state.
“We see a lot of potential that can be done especially in Sibu and other neighbouring towns that need Sibu as a gateway.
“When the Sibu-Kapit road is completed, we know there is going to be a new tourism product, which will involve Sibu as well as the hinterlands.
“If you see nowadays the kind of promotion we are embarking on, a lot refers to eco-tourism; that is the in thing now,” he pointed out.
Abdul Karim said visitors are increasingly less interested in shopping destinations for their travels.
“Usually, when someone goes on a holiday nowadays, it is usually related to eco-tourism and that is where I can see this link between Sibu and the state’s hinterlands.
“This is the product we are embarking on. We are trying to promote it from that angle. Hopefully with this kind of promotion, there will be a lot more flights and tourists coming down to Sibu,” he added.
Among those present were Abdul Karim’s wife Datin Sri Zuraini Abdul Jabbar; Deputy Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts I (Tourism) Dato Sebastian Ting; Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government II Michael Tiang; Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting; Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts permanent secretary Datu Sherrina Hussaini; Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Alice Lau; and Bukit Assek assemblyman Joseph Chieng. — Photo by Conny Banji