The current project of reimaging Kuching as a destination is part of a five-year Tourism Industry Transformation Program which began in 2010 with one thought in mind – to improve the visitor experience in a very niche market and to position Sarawak as a home of adventure with elements of culture and nature. Ahead of Routes Asia, The HUB Daily sat down with Dato’ Rashid Khan, chief executive officer, Sarawak Tourism Board to learn more about his vision.
Sarawak is situated on the third largest island in the world and that makes accessibility a major challenge but the Tourism Board are aware they need to make it easy for travellers to get to the region, thus the reason to host Routes Asia. “The key challenge is to improve air-connectivity so that visitors are able to experience the well kept secrets of Borneo,” said Dato’ Rashid Khan.
The first phase of this process has been to enhance the visitor experience and work with airline partners operating through hub airports such as Kuala Lumpur International and Singapore Changi and increase air connectivity through these facilities. “The very least was to make the journey more comfortable through reducing transit and waiting time to connect to not only Kuching airport in Sarawak but also to airports such as Sibu, Miri and Bintulu,” explained Dato’ Rashid Khan.
The Tourism Board has also collaborated with the airlines to create more city pairs to enable travellers to fly direct to Sarawak, a project that has proved fruitful. “On the domestic front, AirAsia is forthcoming and aggressive in developing city pairs such as between Kuching or Miri and Penang, Kota Bahru, Kuala Trengganu and Johore Bahru and Langkawi bypassing Kuala Lumpur altogether. Similarly in terms of regional flights we have helped bring in Xpress Air and MASWings to Kuching from Pontianak,” said Dato’ Rashid Khan.
The second phase of the plan has been to engage with partner airlines like Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Silk Air and Malindo Air to operate more frequencies on their existing routes and Dato’ Rashid Khan believes the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community will help it succeed.
“We are preparing for the eventual ASEAN Economic Community that will open up opportunities for airlines within ASEAN member countries to capitalise on the Visitors the implementation of the ASEAN Open Sky Policy Roadmap by 2015 with more liberal aviation agreement of a single market,” he said.
Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak Tourism Works on Reimaging Kuching.