Wednesday, June 22, 2005

AirAsia To Introduce Flights Within Sarawak

KUCHING -- To boost its presence in Sarawak, Budget carrier AirAsia is expected to introduce flights within the state, Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said.

Speaking during the winding-up session for his ministry at the State's Legislative Assembly sitting here Tuesday, Wong said that presently AirAsia has increased its flights frequency to 13 flights daily from two flights per day from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu.

"I have been informed that it will soon introduce internal flights within Sarawak," he said.

He added that the carrier has contributed significantly towards improving domestic flights frequency particularly for the state.

On the tourism front, Wong said that tourist arrivals had increased in the last two years.

"Our visitor arrivals for last year is 2.65 million, an increase of 11.97 percent over 2.37 million in 2003," he said.

He said that Sarawak's main markets were Brunei (1.3 million), West Malaysia and Sabah (409,783) Indonesia (401,552), UK and Ireland (44,498), Singapore (41,566) and Australia and New Zealand (29,509)

However, the number of long haul visitors to Sarawak was still low due to inadequate promotion of the state as among the nation's tourism destinations, limited airlinks and small marketing budget, Wong said.

Apart from that, he said that airfare was also a factor, which resulted in the lesser long haul visitors as it was expensive for travellers to extend their journeys from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to Sarawak.

To increase visitor arrivals, Wong said that marketing efforts would be intensified in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Kalimantan through strategic marketing programmes.

Such programmes would be cheaper and allow the local tourism industry to be well prepared for the more demanding long haul visitors, he said.

Courtesy of BERNAMA

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