MIRI: Sarawak will have an opportunity to increase its tourists influx, in line with the Visit Sarawak Campaign next year with Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) new Brunei – Kuching route commencing on Dec 28.
Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Hamzah said Sarawak welcomes the new route which could bring in tourists and tourism money into the state.
“We are very proud of our heritage and very proud of what we have. I believe that Brunei also feels the same about their heritage and everything that we have down here, we want to showcase to the outside world,” he said yesterday.
He spoke at a press conference after witnessing the signing of memorandum of agreement (MoA) between RB and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) at Royal Brunei Recreation Club, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.
Also present at the MoA ceremony were Brunei’s Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Ali Apong; RB chief executive officer (CEO) Karam Chand and STB CEO Sharzede Datuk Salleh Askor.
“We have so much to offer but the problem we are facing is connectivity. That’s why we are very encouraged when we see something like this (Brunei-Kuching route), where we can team up with airlines to get connected to the outside world.”
The MoA signed between RB and STB yesterday was to foster collaboration and stimulate the flow of visitors between Brunei and Kuching and to Brunei and Sarawak from RB’s network.
The MoA followed the announcement by the Brunei flag career that it is commencing the capital to capital connection from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching and vice-versa on Dec 28. RB will provide the connectivity to the capital city of the state with twice weekly flights and four weekly flights from Feb 3 next year.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with Sarawak Tourism Board and have a common objective of growing tourism for both Brunei and Sarawak. RB’s guests can make quick connection to Kuching via Brunei International Airport and vice versa.
“The direct flights give us an exciting opportunity to market single and dual destinations packages in all the cities we service and bring the world much closer to the beautiful city of Kuching.
“With Kuching added to our route network, our guests will enjoy greater access to the island of Borneo and the many attractions on offer,” said RB CEO Karam Chand.
Meanwhile for Sarawak, Sharzede said that it has recently set a new target of tourist arrivals into the state.
“We aim to achieve 5 million tourist arrivals in 2019. To achieve the target STB has launched its new proposition for tourists -’Sarawak, More to Discover’, focusing on our unique culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals, or in short CANFF offerings.
“In tandem, we are working to enhance effective transport connectivity, work closely with our stakeholders and strengthen the quality of our tourism offerings and services, which is why today we are signing this MoA,” she said.
She said that STB was also excited to welcome one of the most loved airlines in the world, back to Sarawak. Royal Brunei Airlines first flew to Kuching on May 15, 1975 but the route was later discontinued.
She added that the connection provided by RB will make Bandar Seri Begawan an important gateway for Sarawak. With the flights, the journey between the two capitals will be dramatically reduced from some 14 hours by road to a mere one hour and fifteen minutes.
“It makes Kuching more accessible to our focus markets including Melbourne, Shanghai and London which augurs well for the marketing of the destination,” she pointed out.