Look beyond MAS for air connectivity to Kuching

BELAGA: Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg is weighing options with other airlines for more connectivity to Kuching, instead of relying solely on Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

Believing that Sarawak must not place all its eggs in one basket and admitting shifting his attention from MAS to other airlines, Abang Johari, who is in the midst of negotiating with Singapore, said there must be more options for Sarawak.

“You must have other baskets. You cannot rely on one airline,” he said, adding that there would be more options for Sarawak come 2015 as BIMP-EAGA has agreed on an open sky policy.

Instead of wallowing in the aftermath of the MH370 disappearance and the shooting down of MH17, Abang Johari said both unfortunate air incidents have not adversely affected local tourism.

“We have an increase of tourists by seven per cent, up until June (this year) we have over two million tourists.”

Abang Johari, who is also Housing Minister, explained that local tourism was not affected because more than half of the two million tourists coming to the state came via Singapore.

“Sabah is affected because it receives a lot of tourists direct from China. Ours are mostly from Singapore. The most these tourists can stay in Singapore is only five to seven days, after that they will go to other places including Sarawak.

“Statistics show that of the two million tourists that we have received, 50 per cent were from Singapore. So what we need to do is to get more frequent connectivity between Singapore and Kuching,” said Abang Johari at a press conference after opening the bi-annual Belaga Rainforest Challenge 2014 which was held here yesterday.

On any adverse effects to Sarawak’s tourism over the delisting of MAS, he expressed confidence that the delisting would not affect local tourism but he has yet to see the restructuring of the GLC-linked aviation  company. “They have not finalised it nor revealed what is their restructuring plan. They only informed me (about the restructuring). But our position is very clear, we want our connectivity problem to be solved.”

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