Friday, April 17, 2015

Measures to be taken to increase the number of direct flights to Sarawak

KUCHING: Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem wants measures to be taken to increase the number of direct flights to Sarawak.

Speaking at the opening of Sarawak Tourism Forum 2015 held here yesterday, the chief minister said the state was still “a bit behind” Sabah, not because of the latter’s nature advantage, but because there were more flights to Kota Kinabalu than to Kuching.

“We have to resolve this open sky policy by allowing as many airlines to come here as we can. In Sabah, they have got so many international airlines going in. We have to have more airlines coming in so that more people can come in.

“We will pursue this matter until we get what we want. And there is a justification for what we want. We don’t want to be sidelined on this matter. We have much to offer here in the island of Borneo and we want to share it with the world,” Adenan said in his keynote address.

In terms of air connectivity, he said at the moment, Sarawak was only accessible from two major hubs namely Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Singapore, adding that there was a need to look into other options including scheduled chartered flights.

“With the completion of the Pan Borneo Highway in the near future, this will hopefully open up Sarawak to travellers and provide access to more attractions. The improvements to the roads will also aid the industry and the overall internal transport.”

While happy to note that the state had received 4.8 million tourists last year, which was an increase of 11 per cent over the 4.3 million visitors received in 2013, he wanted the number to be increased to five million this year.

“All this of course depends on cooperation and understanding of all sectors, directly or indirectly connected with the tourism industry such as the hotel keepers, innkeepers, national parks and travel agents.”

Adenan noted that the estimated tourism receipts generated from tourists last year was RM10.6 billion, which contributed approximately 12 per cent to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP); providing a steady stream of revenue, income and employment.

“Longhouse and rural communities have been the mainstay of our tourism products for over 30 years and we can safely say that we were pioneers in community tourism; this continues today, with homestay programmes and providing estimated earnings of RM4.06 million last year.”