Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Firefly pullout will dampen Sarawak target of four million tourist arrivals

KUCHING: Firefly’s impending pullout from Sarawak before the yearend may mean that the targeted four million foreign tourist arrivals, a figure set by state authorities earlier this year, is unlikely to be achieved.

This is according to Sarawak Tourism Federation, an umbrella association for the private sector, which said the pullout would be a huge setback for the industry, coming just months after Royal Brunei Airlines closed its Kuching-Brunei route.

Federation president Audry Wan Ullok said Firefly’s high flight frequency – up to seven times daily between Kuching and Kuala Lumpur – plus the high load factor of about 70% would be a big gap to fill.

“My feeling is we will really start to feel the impact (of Firefly’s possible pullout) during the year-end school holiday,” Audry told The Star here yesterday.

“Domestic tourists make up a very big part of our industry. Because of that, cheap airfares have always been an important ingredient of Sarawak’s tourism.

“As for non-Malaysian tourists, they have to transit because of lack of direct flights. Travel expenses to Sarawak are a big part of tourist budgets. Often times, travelling costs more than accommodation.”

Last year, about 3.2 million tourists came to Sarawak, out of which 1.4 million were domestic travellers.

Peninsular Malaysians made up about 747,000, and Sabahans about 625,000.

Non-Malaysian arrivals were just over 1.9 million, with Bruneians making up about 1.19 million.

For 2011, arrivals in Sarawak was increasing. Year-to-date arrivals growth had been around 20%, with the rate of non-Malaysian arrivals increasing faster than domestic travellers.

Continue reading at: Firefly pullout will dampen Sarawak target of four million tourist arrivals

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