Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sarawak Tourism Board aims to work with Fly Asian Xpress


MIRI: The Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) wants to liaise with new airline Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) to comprehensively tap the huge potential of tourism in the interior jungles and mountain regions of northern Sarawak.

STB chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said the two parties would be effective partners in developing the state’s untapped tourism potential if FAX could provide the cheap rates that Air Asia was providing in its regional and national flight services.

FAX was set up last month to handle the rural air services in Sarawak and Sabah following the route rationalisation programme between Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia.

MAS will hand over 99 non-trunk routes to Air Asia, including Sarawak’s rural air services to destinations like Mulu, Bario, Ba’Kelalan, Limbang and Lawas.

Air Asia formed it subsidiary FAX to handle the rural sector.

“Northern Sarawak still has enormous potential tourists spots that have yet to be marketed extensively to the rest of the world.

“Not many people outside the state have been to places like the Bario and Ba’Kelalan highlands.

“These highland villages make excellent getaways for urban folks who wants to experience life in the mountains and highlands.

“They are also excellent venues for companies which want to conduct meetings, incentive tours or conventions in remote destinations far from the hectic life of urban centres,” Geikie said when interviewed.

She noted that MAS had for decades served the rural sector because the national carrier was fulfilling its social obligation.

Now that FAX has taken over, she hoped the airline would not only play a social role but also consider playing a supplementary role in promoting tourism in the rural destinations.

“If FAX can offer cheap air fares like Air Asia, the number of people visiting rural destinations will increase many times.

“The rural regions have not been highlighted prominently as tourism spots. STB would like to work with FAX and come up with comprehensive tour packages for these rural places,” she said.

FAX opened its online ticket booking on June 12, seven weeks ahead of its official operations opening date of Aug 1, when MAS will officially hand over all the 99 routes to Air Asia.

Source: The Star

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