Sarawak is looking to build more tourism facilities and attractions, and hold more international events.
KUCHING: The East Malaysian state of Sarawak is preparing for an anticipated surge in tourist arrivals next year.
In line with its growing tourism sector, the state government is establishing a Sarawak-based airline to serve Southeast Asia and East Asian countries.
Plans are underway and the government expects its state-owned boutique airline to begin operations by next year.
Sarawak is also looking to build more tourism facilities and attractions.
PLANS TO PROMOTE SARAWAK’S RICH CULTURE, BIODIVERSITY
Recent attractions include a 99m flagpole – the tallest in Southeast Asia – overlooking the Sarawak River, and the new Borneo Cultures Museum, the second largest in the region. To light up the city, the Darul Hana Bridge at the waterfront greets tourists with dazzling lights.
Sarawak’s Premier Abang Johari Openg has big plans to promote Sarawak’s rich culture and biodiversity in a bid to drive the state’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with CNA, he explained about his proposed move to take over domestic carrier MASwings to turn it into a regional airline by the middle of next year.
“It is part and parcel of connectivity that we have to establish between Sarawak and the outside world,” said Mr Abang Johari, adding that it would be a small airline that allows Sarawak to be connected to the Far East and the rest of Southeast Asia.
“Basically, this airline will stabilise airfare between Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak. As long as we cover the overhead, it’s okay.”
To get ready for the expected increase in tourist arrivals, existing hotels are being refurbished and new ones are being built.
Sarawak’s Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said there will be more offerings next year.
For a start, the Niah National Park in coastal city Miri is set to be listed as another United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site after Mulu National Park.
ORGANISING MORE GLOBAL EVENTS TO ATTRACT TOURISTS
Sarawak will also be staging more festivals and concerts.
“This year, we placed a target of 3 million visitors. Earlier this month, we hit that target. By December, I think we should have hit more than 4 million,” said Mr Abdul Karim.
“Music festivals are one big pull. We have got the Rainforest World Music Festival, we have got the Borneo Jazz Festival. We recently got the Borneo Sonic Music Festival, where more than 20,000 came – a lot of them were from West Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.”
Sarawak is also planning to showcase more of its traditional sporting events by inviting foreign participants to take part annually.
The state is also actively wooing tourists from West Malaysia and neighbouring countries.
CAPITALISING ON THE ANNUAL REGATTA
Thousands, including locals, flocked to the capital city recently for the week-long annual Sarawak regatta.
“Every year, a lot of people from outside Kuching come here to enjoy the regatta,” said one resident.
Another resident said: “I feel very proud of the multicultural values of Sarawak. I hope it will stay the same forever.”
Touted as the oldest sporting event in Sarawak, boat racing was first introduced by the British in the 1870s as a means to resolve conflicts among tribal leaders. Instead of violent clashes, local tribes were encouraged to challenge each other in a boat race to prove their power and skill.
The state government hopes by organising more of such international events, Sarawak will attract more tourists to flock to its shores in the years ahead.
Source : cna