Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sarawak expects to attract five million tourists this year

KUCHING: The state is targeting to receive five million tourists this year, following a strong performance last year when it attracted 4.8 million visitors.

Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the number of arrivals at 4.857 million last year exceeded their target of 4.5 million tourists, an increase of 11 per cent from the 4.371 million recorded in 2013.

The number of foreign visitors last year was 2.99 million, an increase of 12 per cent from the 2.66 million recorded in 2013 while domestic arrivals reached 1.86 million, marking an improvement of nine per cent from the 1.7 million recorded the previous year. He also disclosed that the estimated tourism receipt for last year was RM10.86 billion.

“With regard to our tourism development, the state unexpectedly achieved well beyond target. Initially we thought it would reach 4.5 million but the final figure was 4.8 million. We expect tourism to become a very important driver in the services industry to our economy,” he told a press conference after officiating at the soft launch of the Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) 2015 at Pullman Hotel here yesterday.

Assistant Tourism Minister (Local Products and Events) Datuk Gramong Juna, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Bumiputera Entrepreneur Development) Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais, Sarawak Convention Bureau chairman and Mukah MP Dato Sri Dr Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad and Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik were among those present.

Abang Johari mentioned that the bulk of tourists coming to the state last year were from Brunei, at 1.9 million. They mostly visited Miri, which recorded hotel occupancy rate of 67 per cent.

This was followed by Indonesians with about 550,000 arrivals, which he attributed to the medical and education sectors here.

Other visitors, he added, included those from the Philippines at 135,861, Singapore (49,059), China (39,735), United Kingdom (33,854), India (32,487), Thailand (31,955) and Australia (21,039).