State explores possibility of Taipei-Kuching direct flight

Abang Johari (centre) has his picture taken with some of his ministry’s staff during the ‘buka puasa’ event.

Abang Johari (centre) has his picture taken with some of his ministry’s staff during the ‘buka puasa’ event.

KUCHING: The state is exploring the possibility of establishing direct flight to Taiwan to further boost tourism, after the success of the recently launched Hong Kong-Kuching route.

According to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, the twice-weekly Hong Kong-Kuching direct flight which commenced in April attracted up to 80 per cent passenger load. The state was keen to strengthen its tourism promotion to East Asia with Hong Kong cited as an important hub.

“The recently launched Hong Kong-Kuching route is promising. The load factor is between 75 and 80 per cent, particularly from Hong Kong and southern China. This means that market response to our promotion of Sarawak is very positive.

“The state is discussing with a group from Taiwan the possibility of establishing a Taipei-Kuching direct route. With all the airlines coming in, the tourism industry in Sarawak looks promising,” Abang Johari, who is also Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said at his ministry’s breaking of fast at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here on Wednesday.

The state was also looking to increase the frequency of the Kuching-Hong Kong flight though it depends on the management of Hong Kong Airlines.

Abang Johari said increasing connectivity to Sarawak, especially from Hong Kong and Singapore, was important to boost the state’s tourism market.

“Indonesia, with is tourism promotion particularly for Kalimantan, is complementing the state’s tourism marketing. We can promote together for a particular market. The most important factor is the response from the two hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong.”

When asked on the state’s tourist arrival for this year, Abang Johari was optimistic that Sarawak could reach its target of attracting about five million tourists.

“Tourist arrival in the last three months has shown positive sign despite the slow start in January and February. Hopefully we can achieve our target,” he said.

The state received 4.5 million visitors last year, which included 2.5 million foreign tourists.