Friday, September 21, 2012

Boosting Borneo tourism through trans-boundary cooperation

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) will be working with the Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA), Brunei Tourism Board (BTB) and the Sabah Tourism Board to collaborate with the private sector to attract more tourists to the state.

STB chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said both Bandar Seri Begawan and Kota Kinabalu will be secondary hubs to bring in tourists from north Asia, China and Australia.

Presently there are more than 100 weekly direct international flights to Sabah from Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei), Clark and Manila (the Philippines), Hong Kong and Shenzhen (China), Jakarta (Indonesia), Kaoshiung and Taipei (Taiwan), Seoul (Korea), Singapore as well as Osaka and Tokyo (Japan).

“The private sector must work with travel agents in the region to bring in more tourists to Sarawak.

“Our role is to provide marketing support to these people,” Rashid told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He was optimistic that with bigger budget allocation from the government for next year, STB would be able to do more promotions overseas.

“The bigger budget allocation for next year is a big welcome for STB as it will allow us to do more promotion and overseas programmes next year,” enthused Rashid, adding that he could not disclose the actual amount allocated to STB before the budget is approved in the upcoming DUN sitting in November.

President of the Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) Audrey Wan Ullok said its members had done their part by targeting certain markets in the regions to bring in tourists to the state.

“What we are doing is to complement the efforts of STB but we believe that more collaboration in certain areas need to be improved,” stressed Audrey.

STF members comprise travel agents, hoteliers, restaurant operators, tourist guides and car rental agencies.

Former Malaysia BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council chairman Datuk Wee Hong Seng opined that besides better air connectivity, tourism players must also improve their business connectivity with their counterparts from other countries in the region.