Friday, February 04, 2011

More flights will boost tourist arrivals to Sarawak

KUCHING: The tourism industry was hard hit by the recent global recession and Sarawak was not spared by it.

However, efforts are made by various bodies, notably Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) and other stakeholders, to lure more tourists to the state.

The following is the excerpt from an interview with the president of STF Audry Wan Ullok.

Q: How did the local tourism sector perform last year?

Audry: According to statistics of visitor arrivals from the state Immigration Department, as at the end of October 2010 foreign visitors’ arrival in Sarawak has decreased slightly but domestic visitors’ arrival (especially from Sabah) has increased by 0.8 per cent. The final figures till the end of December 2010 are being compiled now.

Q: What were some of the problems/challenges faced by tourism players last year?

Audry: This would probably be a combination of various factors – such as increased competitiveness of other destinations especially in the Asia Pacific region, and to add to that the global financial crisis has not helped much.

Q: How do you see the tourism industry performing this year?

Audry: The tourism industry is optimistic and we expect tourist arrival figures to pick up this year. With the increased flights from Peninsula Malaysia (via Firefly) and from North Asia (via MAS to Japan and South Korea), the tourism industry is excited with the better prospects.

We understand that there is also a possibility of some charter flights coming into the state, as what is currently happening in Sabah. All these are still in very early and preliminary discussions, but it is something which will be good for the tourism industry.

Q: Is air connectivity still the major problem faced by the local
tourism industry?

Audry: We are thankful for the new flights to Kuching from KLIA (via Firefly – four flights a day), which I understand received very good response, and will definitely help to boost domestic tourism (from Peninsular Malaysia).

Also, Air Asia has about 10 flights a day between KL and Kuching, MAS has about eight flights a day between KL and Kuching.

In addition, there are daily flights from Singapore to Kuching by Air Asia, MAS, Tiger Airways and Silk Air.

This month has also seen the new connecting flight between Kuching (via KK) and Japan (Tokyo and Osaka) and South Korea (Seoul and Haneda). It is still too early to comment but we are hopeful that with Sarawak Tourism Board’s (STB) continued marketing of Sarawak in North Asia, visitors’ arrival will pick up over the next few months.

We are hoping for more flights to international destinations such as Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok, Denpasar and selected destinations in Australia.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: More flights will boost tourist arrivals to Sarawak

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