Sarawak’s tourism mix attractive to European tourists

Frédéric Laplanche

KUCHING: Sarawak’s unique tourism mix of heritage and nature is a winner in the eyes of the European market as the French Ambassador in Malaysia, Frédéric Laplanche, has given his stamp of approval to the state’s tourist attractions.

“There are a lot of resources here that are attractive to not only French tourists but to European tourists on the whole. What they are looking for is what Sarawak is already providing, which is heritage, history, traditional culture, and nature.

“This mix is extremely attractive to our tourists,” he said during an interview with The Borneo Post earlier this week.

According to Laplanche, more and more French tourists are beginning to see Sarawak as an attractive place to holiday and the numbers are showcasing this as the state has played host to almost 50,000 French tourists in 2017.

Eager for this trend to continue, Laplanche shares that he is hopeful that France can be of assistance in helping Sarawak further enhance her tourist attractions involved in local heritage and traditional culture.

One particular collaboration between Malaysia and France, he said, is a trilateral collaboration between the Museum of Sarawak, Universiti of Malaysa (UM) and the French School of The Far East (EFOEO) to restart the archaeological studies in Sarawak’s Santubong area.

“Excavations were made there (Santubong) a few years ago, but the project’s aim is to make a full survey and try in particular to clarify questions of date, when these archaeological sites were used, what were their propose, where did these people come from and what did they do.

“They want to try and have a better overview of the whole area and it’s a very new project and probably the first time that a French government research centre is going to work on archaeological studies in Sarawak. It is a very exciting project,” he said.

Besides that, Laplanche added that there have also been talks on developing Santubong into an archaeological park and on that aspect he hoped that France’s experience in developing archaeological science in museums, interpretation centres and tourists attractions will prove useful in helping in the endeavour.

“There are some museums in France which cover similar fields as the Sarawak museum, so we are happy to share our experience with the Sarawak museum.

Additionally, Laplanche also guided that he hoped there would be room for French museums and the Sarawak museum to participate in future exchanges, exhibitions and cooperation in museology.

Besides just heritage and cultural attractions, Laplanche reiterates that another major aspect of attraction of Sarawak to French and European tourists is our bountiful nature attractions, especially our biodiverse and unspoilt natural jungles.

“That is why environment protection is also very useful to tourism here and will continue to be useful in attracting tourists,” he said.

And to accommodate this growing trend of French and European tourists, Laplanche expressed that he is pleased that there are schools and higher institutions in Sarawak that offer French as a language subject.

In Sarawak, there are current six secondary schools that offer French as a subject, and of those schools there are an estimated 800 students that are currently undertaking French as a language subject. Local university Unimas is also offering French as a potential course to take.

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