Monday, December 19, 2011

Sarawak’s air connectivity must provide for high, medium and low-budget travellers to capture more tourists

KUCHING: Uncertainities concerning air connectivity to Sarawak are making it difficult for the Tourism Ministry to set a target for next year’s tourist arrivals.

Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the volume of tourist arrivals to the state relied heavily on air connectivity and the lack of it certainly hampered further growth.

It was therefore pivotal to ensure there were sufficient airlines to serve the high, medium and low budget travellers, Johari reasoned.

“Not every tourist will want to travel using low-cost carrier and we need to find a solution that caters to all,” he told reporters after launching the Cuti Cuti 1Malaysia Dance Carnival at the state hockey stadium here yesterday.

According to him, as of last October Sarawak recorded about three million tourist arrivals.

“Next year maybe we will get between three million and 3.5 million,” he said, adding, however, that too depended on how much the state had done to improve air connectivity.

On efforts to make MASwing, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), a regional airline, Joha-ri said talks were still at formative stage, therefore, he “cannot divulge any details for the time being”.

He said if the federal Tourism Ministry wanted to achieve an average of three million tourist arrivals nationwide by 2020, better air connectivity to Sarawak and Sarawak was essential.

Both states had the products to lure more visitors but present air connectivity woes, following the MAS and AirAsia share swap, was hampering tourism development, Johari argued.

As far as Sarawak was concerned, the state would go for a holistic approach to ensure a healthy number in tourist arrivals next year and beyond, he said.

“We’ll have to go beyond eco-tourism. We need to promote Sarawak as a destination for adventure, culture, nature, history and romanticism. The model that we use will be based on Venice in Italy,” he said.

For instance, Johari said the ministry hoped to tap emerging markets among the middle class in China and India who normally went overseas for their annual holiday trips.

He said the state also hoped to get more adventure seekers and nature as well as culture lovers to the state.

“Our tourism tagline will continue to be ‘Where Adventure Lives’ next year,” he said, adding that his ministry hoped that MICE participants would extend their stay to visit nearby destinations like Bako National Park and Semenggok Wildlife Centre.

Continue reading at: Sarawak’s air connectivity must provide for high, medium and low-budget travellers to capture more tourists

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