Sarawak expects tourist arrivals to be halved this year


THE Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak (Motac Sarawak) is targeting to hit two to three million in arrivals for the year — 50% lower than its usually more than four million, due to Covid-19.

Motac Sarawak Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (picture; right) said the state contends with lower arrivals than usual, instead of its five million targets previously.

“Sarawak is a state where we have a lot of cultural heritages to which we can use them to attract people to come to visit.

“Even within our country, a lot of people are interested in that. Hence, we plan to utilise that to boost the arrivals into our state,” he said at the press briefing yesterday after a meeting at the Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan.

The meeting marked Motac’s collaboration with the state government on domestic tourism to revive the industry.

The tourism industry has contributed as much as RM11 billion to the state’s economy, according to its tourism satellite account in 2018.

As of January 2020, the state saw a 16.17% increase in arrivals, but a heavy 56.9% drop within the first half of the year (1H20).

He said it is important that both the federal and state governments take the first step of prioritising domestic travel and invigorating the whole economy through spinoff effects in the value chain.

“It is also urgent that both governments draw up a blueprint to enable domestic tourism to flourish without compromising the health and safety of the locals,” he added.

“My ministry has also identified some important key focus initiatives for the 2H20 with among the significant ones being the embarking on the third Sarawak Tourism Master Plan Study and the introduction of four new Free City Electric Buses plying tourist destinations and visitor hotspots,” he said.

He added that there would be new Sarawak-Malaysia My Second Home policies, the opening of a new Sarawak Craft Council Office cum showroom, as well as the hosting of local events estimated to have around RM12.55 million in funding for next year.

“My ministry will refocus on ‘Rediscover Yourself in Sarawak!’ together with Cuti-Cuti Malaysia campaign with greater urgency and vigour,” he said.

The state ministry is looking to receive more excursion bus permits from Motac, while looking to reinstate its Tourism Malaysia regional operation supervision office in 2018.

Motac Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri (left) said this meeting marks the continuous collaboration that has already begun as of the 11th Malaysia Plan whereby Motac has allocated RM48.25 million to fund 18 development projects for tourism and culture in the state.

“In addition, there is also the National Ecotourism Plan (NEP 2016-2025) which has been launched to maximise the ecotourism sector’s potency in this country via 19 strategies and 86 action plans.

“Out of the 60 clusters for ecotourism listed in the NEP, Sarawak has nine, which include the Mature Cluster of Bako-Santubong-Kubah-Semenggoh-Bau Padawan and the Emerging Cluster of Miri-Sibuti-Niah-Loagan Bunut,” she said.

Subsequently, Motac will also be launching a workshop for tourism industry players and workers on Aug 15, 2020, which will involve licensed tour and travel drivers in the state.