Tourism expected to be major economic spinner in 12 MP

MIRI: Indications are that the hospitality industry in Sarawak will emerge a major economic driver in the next five to seven years into the 12th Malaysia Plan if its blue print is translated into reality.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Haji Openg said this would increase the contribution from the services sector to the state’s economy as tourism has a bigger multiplier effect suited to the people’s competency compared to the more rigid employment structure of the manufacturing sector.

In an interview with The Borneo Post at Miri Airport on Thursday, he said: “The hospitality industry is the right thing for us as Sarawakians are trained to a certain higher level compared to manufacturing where expatriates are at the top and locals at the lower echelons of employment.”

Total tourism receipts hit RM10.69 billion or 17 per cent of GDP last year against RM9.59 billion in 2013, an increase of 11.5 per cent,

The upward trend continue this year with the first quarter registering 8.1 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) to 1.2 million arrivals compared with 1.11 million in 1Q14.

Out of 4.86 million tourists who visited Sarawak in 2014, three millions were foreign tourists while domestic tourists from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah contributed 1.86 million people.

Abang Jo said the state is adopting a multi-pronged approach in the hospitality industry, adapting to the evolving segments and changing taste in the market.

There has been greater emphasis on drawing tourists for meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE) to complement culture, adventure and nature (CAN) attractions of the state.

In conjunction with Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015, the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak has lined up several major events to boost tourist arrivals.

They include Borneo Cultural Festival, Borneo Jazz Festival, Bario Food Festival, Sarawak International Dragon Boat Regatta, Borneo International Kite Festival and the yearly Rainforest World Music Festival.

Sarawak will host the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) 55th congress in Kuching next year. It was held in Buenos Aires this year.

“We can push the convention and post-convention markets with eco-tourist attractions in Kuching and Miri (divisions),” he said.

ICCA is the global expert in international association meetings, representing the main specialists in organising, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events.

Abang Jo will be in Buenos Aires from Nov 1-4 this year to receive the ICCA flag for next year’s congress.

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