Monday, March 06, 2017

Sarawak tourism industry needs shot in the arm for marketing

MIRI: The state government has put in much effort to market Sarawak to tourists from all over the world.

However, it is noted that there are fewer Asian tourists compared to Western tourists coming ro our shores. If there is one reason that could explain Sarawak’s low popularity among China and Hong Kong tourists compared to other countries, it could be marketing or lack of it or wrong focus.

“We are all saddened by the news of Hong Kong-Kuching flight suspension by Hong Kong Airlines earlier this year. It is a brutal truth, but we cannot deny it nor give up. I can say the tourism board could be focusing on the wrong direction,” said Wilson Chiam, managing director of Brighton Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd, in an interview recently.

Western tourists, he said were more adventurous and nature-loving people, which is why they love exploring Sarawak’s natural heritage – Lambir National Park, Mulu National Park, etc.

Free independent travellers (FIT), he added, were mostly foreign backpackers who wanted to explore every corner of Sarawak.

“Western travellers are the least of our worries because almost every nature and adventure package we are promoting, are able to attract many of them who are willing to spend time and money to explore Sarawak.”

To date, Chiam has done inbound trips for tourists from United States, Australia, New Zealand and European countries.

Meanwhile, in comparison between tourists from Asian countries – China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Singapore – Chiam said Taiwanese tourists were more nature-loving and adventurous.

“It is a whole different perception when it comes to tourists from China, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Recalling being asked for a Wifi password by a Hong Kong traveller during a familiarisation trip, Chiam said it went to show how different tourists were from one country to another, according to their needs.

“Perhaps, it was the different lifestyle that made them difficult to accept jungle-trekking, putting away technological gadgets and temporarily cutting off any sort of connection,” he said.