KUCHING: Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit urged local travel and tourism operators to take the current economic slowdown in their stride by shifting their market towards local tourists.“Though this (the economic slowdown) can be looked upon as a half empty glass to those who wish to see Malaysia awash with foreign tourists, this could also represent an opportunity for Malaysian travel and tourism operators to aggressively target their own fellow countrymen as a highly accessible market with potential repeat visitors in the long term,” he explained.
Speaking at the ‘Malam Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Sarawak’ dinner on Sunday night at Sarawak Cultural Village, he encouraged Malaysian tourism operators to also target travellers from the Asean region due to their close proximity.
Dawos said according to the tourism trend worldwide, it is forecasted that many tourists will spend their holidays domestically this year due to the current economic slowdown, and travellers’ general tendency to avoid risks by not travelling abroad.
He also invited west Malaysians to visit Sarawak to witness for themselves the state’s enchanting beauty and culture.
“Sarawak, being the largest state in Malaysia and boasting 40 sub-ethnic groups that live in harmony, is sure to enchant many domestic travellers, making them want to come back for more,” said Dawos who is Mambong MP.
“From the Ministry of Tourism’s standpoint, I wish to see more of our Semenanjung brothers and sisters visit this side of Malaysia, especially Sarawak and vice versa. I am sure that domestic tourists will find Sarawak an enigmatic destination,” he continued.
Dawos also noted that it is refreshing to see representatives from the media, travel operators, corporations and government agencies come up with programmes such as ‘Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia’ to learn about what Sarawak has to offer, and spread the word about the state.
“The programme is indicative of the fact that when it comes to promoting a destination, it requires the involvement and support of many parties, not just a few,” he said.
‘Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia’ is a programme conducted by Gaya Travel Magazine in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia that intends to actively promote Malaysian destinations to Malaysians themselves.
The programme made its first stop in Sarawak on March 26 to 29. Also present during the event were Assistant Minister of Tourism and Heritage Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammed Taiyab and Gaya Travel editor Jeremy Khalil.