Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Tourists ‘enchanted, fascinated’ by Borneo Cultural Festival 2016

SIBU: ‘Enchanting and fascinating’ – that was the impression that the recently-ended Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) left on tourists as they returned home with warm and colourful memories of the heartland of Borneo.

This was shared by tour operator Frankie Ting, who brought in visitors from Penang, England and Holland for the biggest cultural festival in Sarawak at Sibu Town Square held over 10 nights.

Its grand finale was on Saturday.

Ting said he had brought in a group of some 20 tourists from Penang, as well as some Dutch and English visitors who came in separate smaller groups.

“As Sarawak is less exposed in the tourism market and the locals are friendly and hospitable, the visitors are impressed and feel the novelty of their experience of Borneo. Almost everything about life here is fresh to them, including for the visitors from Penang.”

Ting said there were other tour agents who brought in more tourists, all of whom had nothing but praise for Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) which paved the way in opening up tourism as the council prepared for ‘Visit Sibu Year 2017’.

He said last year, under Datuk Andrew Wong who chaired the BCF working committee, SMC and STB had arranged a familiarisation tour for tour agents from outside the state, including those from Peninsular Malaysia and Vietnam.

“Some (of the) tourist arrivals this year were the fruit borne out of this effort last year. For the group from Penang, the tour agent there had organised his group after the familiarisation tour.”

Ting said this effort, initiated by Wong, was expected to ‘bear more fruits’. He disclosed that a tour agent in Vietnam had just called him to propose for the chartering of a flight to bring in tourists from his country.

Currently, they are now working out a win-win situation.

“As they are chartering a flight to Sibu for the festival here next year, I shall also use this flight to take our folk to Vietnam, so that the airline will not have to return with an empty flight after ferrying the Vietnamese tourists here. We hope this proposal will bring good news.”