SINGAPORE: A tourism package — Sarawak Integrated Package (SIP) aimed to attract more Singaporeans to Sarawak was launched here on Tuesday night.
The SIP consists of 38 different packages ranging from daily tour to six-day-five-night package to cater to the needs of different groups of tourists.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said Sarawak could expect the first arrival of Singapore tourists under the SIP during the Christmas holiday.
“Yes, the package will work. It is very surprising that not many Singaporeans have gone to Sarawak. If we sell it properly, we could get quite a big number of Singapore tourists within a year or two,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after the launching ceremony, Dr Chan explained that the advantage of SIP was its flexibility in meeting the demand of different tourists.
The Tourism and Heritage Minister said the packages would be reviewed from time to time to better suit the needs of tourists.
Apart from Singapore, other potential markets for the SIP are Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China, in particular Shen Zhen, said Dr Chan.
Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, the permanent secretary to Tourism and Heritage Ministry, added that SIP would be modified according to customers’ and travel agents’ feedback.
“The feedback from travel agents from both Singapore and Sarawak is crucial to us because they are the ones who sell the packages.
“We will try to bring in some Singapore travel agents to Sarawak in the inaugural flight from Singapore to Miri via Kuching on Oct 31 to let them know their products so that they could negotiate with their counterparts in Sarawak before selling to potential customers,” he explained.
He pointed out that the feedback would be forwarded to the relevant authorities for further improvement.
Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan told a press conference earlier that it was timely for the board to look at Singapore.
“It is one of the major shifts in terms of market programme to look at our neighbouring countries and see how we can tap from them.
“In this current economic recovery stage, more tourists are looking at places near their homes. Therefore, it is very natural for us to focus on Singapore which is one of the high-income economies’ country,” he said.
He added that Singapore with its large expatriate community had become an attractive and potential market for the tourism industry of the Land of Hornbill.
STB in a press statement said that they aimed to achieve its target of 61,905 tourists from Singapore by 2011 with an estimated RM124.8 million in tourism receipts.
There were 9 million Singapore tourists visiting Malaysia last year, however, only 50,000 visited Sarawak, said Rashid.
Statistics provided by Tourism and Heritage Ministry showed that the number of Singapore tourists visiting Sarawak from January up to August this year had decreased by 19 per cent to 25,282 from 31,244 during the same period last year.
Last year, some 50,243 Singaporeans visited Sarawak, an increase of 24 per cent from 2008 (40,398).
Rashid explained that SIP which offers creative packages is a signal to all tourism stakeholders that Sarawak is seriously investing in a vibrant, profitable and sustainable future of the tourism industry.
One of the highlights of SIP is to provide product experiences for tourists, he said.
“Most of the packages will have a series of product experiences including festivals such as Rainforest World Musical Festival, Miri Jazz Festival and Borneo Cultural Festival.
“The product experiences will cut across all target groups, from soft adventurers, active sports adventurers to tourists who prefer cultural experiences. Apart from that, we are also targeting students where special packages focusing on field trips are offered,” he said.
Rashid stressed that Sarawak would not promote mass tourism because the impact on environment was the priority of the board.
“It is not about chasing numbers but about sustainability. We can’t open for mass tourism because we have to measure the impact on environment,” he said.
A total of 36 travel agents here were identified to be featured as fulfilment travel agents to process enquiries, bookings and payment for these integrated tour packages while nine Sarawak suppliers were involved in this initiative.