Abang Johari: Hong Kong-based airline eyeing Kuching route

Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg

Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg

KUCHING: An undisclosed airline based in Hong Kong is expected to start flying direct from Hong Hong to here as early as February next year.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, in his speech at the 6th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards 2013/2014 here on Sunday night, said a joint announcement on this development would be made soon. He said it would augur well for the state’s tourism as currently the only international scheduled flights were from Singapore.

“For now, I won’t reveal the name of the airline,” he said, when approached by reporters on the sideline of the event.

Abang Johari said the Hong Kong-Kuching sector could result in more Chinese tourists to the state as Chinese nationals tended to visit Hong Kong first before travelling overseas.

“Air connectivity is still a challenge, but whatever the shortfalls and hurdles, I urge all industry players to be resilient, creative, and innovative in their promotion and branding strategies.”

On a related matter, Abang Johari said the state had been chosen to host several international conferences and events, such as the International Congress and Convention Association Conference (ICCA), which is expected to bring in about 800 captains of key business events.

On funds, he hoped his ministry would be allocated sufficient funds in State Budget 2016 to really promote the tourism sector.

On tourist arrivals, he said in the first nine months of this year, the state recorded 3.4 million of them, which equated to an estimated RM7.3 billion in tourism receipt. His ministry’s target for this year is five million tourist arrivals.

He said he was optimistic the target could be achieved as the last quarter of the year tended to be the ‘peak season’ for tourist arrivals in the state. Last year, tourist arrivals totalled 4.8 million, with an estimated RM10 billion in tourism receipt.