Tourist arrivals in Sarawak drop almost 70% in Jan-oct – Awang Tengah

by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA

TOURIST arrivals in Sarawak dropped 1.17 million or 68.8 per cent for the January to October period this year, compared with 3.76 million in the corresponding period in 2019,  Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister III, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said.

He said the tourism sector was among the worst-hit economic sectors due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in an unprecedented downturn, and unlike other economic sectors, would need a longer period to recover due to closure of borders and travel restrictions.

“The tourism receipts declined 69.8 per cent to RM2.82 billion compared with the same period in 2019 which amounted to RM9.34 billion.

“By end-2022, Sarawak has projected an estimated visitors arrival of 1.2 million, a decline of 76 per cent from the initial target of five million before COVID-19,” he said when winding up for the State Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting today.

He said the state’s tourism sector was expected to slowly recover in 2021, with an anticipated total visitors arrival of 1.4 million and an estimated tourism receipt of RM3.5 billion.

“The ministry has taken various measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help revive the tourism industry such as response to the current situation by quickly reviewing our marketing strategies to turn our promotional and marketing initiative towards domestic tourism.

“Sarawak Tourism Board initiated an intra-state travel campaign named ‘Sia Sitok Sarawak’ which features 30 tourism packages from Kuching, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu, Miri, and Mulu at affordable prices by giving 50 per cent discount to encourage Sarawakians to travel within their own home state,” he said.

Awang Tengah said the ministry together with the Sarawak Economic Planning Unit had embarked on the Third Sarawak Tourism Masterplan study to chart the way forward for state’s tourism industry to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

“The ministry is planning to focus on several areas such as to develop tourism facilities and infrastructure for Sarawak’s niche ecotourism products such as national parks, beaches and waterfalls, and to preserve, conserve and promote Sarawak’s unique history, culture and heritage through museums, forts, heritage buildings, and archaeological sites,” he added.