Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rise in visitors to Sarawak

By JACK WONG at the Sarawak State Assembly

Sarawak’s efforts in promoting domestic tourism in Peninsular Malaysia has paid handsome dividends as shown by a big influx of visitors.

State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said the number of visitors from the peninsula shot up by 68% to over 259,000 during the first eight months of this year, up from 154,000 during the same period last year.

He said the state had stepped up promotions in the peninsula by going on roadshows there since June this year.

Wong said, during the period under review, that arrivals in the state jumped by 15.5% to 1.92 million, with the Brunei, Britain, Ireland, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand markets contributing most to the increase.

Wong said that overall hotel occupancy statewide during the first nine months of this year rose by over 2%, with occupancy at Miri hotels averaging 76%, Kuching 75%, Sibu 64% and Bintulu 41%.

“We have been able to achieve this because of the close co-operation of Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines.

“The presence of Air Asia and Silk Air also greatly increased the number of seats to Sarawak,” he added.

To make the state a destination for meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions, a 5,000-seat convention and exhibition centre would be built in Kuching, he said.

Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Datuk William Mawan Ikom said the state Welfare Department was documenting the success stories of its welfare recipients.

He said the records would be useful for the state to draw up programmes to help other welfare recipients to become self-reliant.

Mawan said that able-bodied welfare recipients were required to take part in income-generating activities of the department under its sheltered workshop project.

The department runs one such workshop in Jalan Samarahan.

Mawan said his ministry would receive RM39mil under the state’s 2006 Budget to fund social development and community service programmes.

Source: The Star