Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Sarawak Tourism: Time to self-rationalise

Route cuts and flight frequency reduction have tourism players up in arms but efforts to make Sarawak deserving of MAS and AirAsia’s attention are not there.

WE are now entering week-three of flight uncertainties between the state and other parts of Malaysia.

Three memorandums on the confusion arising from the airline route rationalisation exercise will today be submitted to MAS, the Federal and state governments.

The memorandums are by Sarawak Tourism Federation and backed by chambers of commerce across the state.

I need not reiterate what had already been said and reported. In a nutshell, the state has become the first to lose out in the MAS-AirAsia rationalisation. Insiders now say decision makers are promising a “win-win solution”, but that is yet to be seen.

To be fair, the national aviation and tourism industries might emerge stronger; but for now, there is a whole lot of confusion, and answers have not been forthcoming.

Nonetheless, just as it is easy to lay blame on others, more importantly, now is also the time to reflect on our own weaknesses.

First things first, it must be said that whenever Federal decision makers decide on cost saving exercises (like this rationalisation and other austerity drives) Sarawak is often the first to be affected.

An argument can be made that Sarawak and Sabah have perpetually been on “austerity drives”. I do not think this is a controversial point to make as it is so common to hear government and opposition politicians alike talk about how our infrastructure is “20 to 30 years behind peninsula’s”.

However, a counter argument can be made that fund allocation according to population is the fairest way to distribute money.

Taken from that perspective, because the respective populations of Sarawak and Sabah are so small, we have been unable to get more funds compared to densely populated areas like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor.

In fact, about half of Malaysia’s population is concentrated in the western corridor of the peninsula. Therefore, every ringgit spent there benefits more people than the same amount spent in Terengganu, Sabah or Sarawak, even though these are the big three oil and gas producing states.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Tourism: Time to self-rationalise

No comments: