Friday, July 05, 2013

AirAsia calls for more support to boost Sarawak’s tourism

KUCHING: AirAsia Bhd (AirAsia) is calling for relevant organisations to ramp up their efforts to boost the tourism industry in Sarawak in order to increase flight traffic into the state.

In addition to that, the low-cost carrier urges airport authorities to reduce airport charges in order to help facilitate the airline to be more aggressive bringing in more traffic into Sarawak.

“If the Sarawak government is relying on having more international destinations to be connected into Sarawak, then there’s a lot that needs to be done.

“They can’t just rely on the airline, they need to promote Sarawak and stimulate that traffic by having the appropriate charges,” AirAsia chief executive officer Aireen Omar said during a meet-and-greet media session at Hilton Hotel here yesterday.

Currently, the majority of connectivity into Sarawak has been from Peninsular Malaysia or intra-Borneo traffic, she said.

“We want more international destinations from Kuching and hopefully we can do that if we have the support of relevant tourism board to help us,” Aireen urged.

She further highlighted that Sarawak, which contributes about half of the overall 20 per cent market from East Malaysia, has a lot to offer.

In particular, she noted, the eco-adventure events like Mulu and Niah caves, and Sarawak Cultural Village as well as the state’s very diverse culture, ethnicity and different kind of environment could potentially be attractive to foreigners especially those from Europe or China.

“These (Sarawak’s unique features) are something that needs to be brought up for the whole world to see and I think if we do that well, then we can get a lot international traffic here,” she added.

Additionally, Kenny Wong, AirAsia’s head of commercial said, “There’s something exotic about East Malaysia, particularly Sarawak.”

He added that Sarawak being the biggest state in Malaysia, has a lot natural attraction which could be developed to attract young travelers.