KUCHING: Malaysians’ hospitality, particularly the people of Sarawak, the state government, Tourism Malaysia and related agencies has made the hosting of the Pacific Area Travel Association (Pata) Annual Meeting here a successful bid, says Pata immediate-past chairman Phonsiri Manoharn.“The meeting has been very successful. It is the 59th annual meeting for all our Pata members. Malaysians’ hospitality, especially the people of Sarawak, are friendly and marvellous.
“They are friendly and helpful. Since we arrive at the airport, they have been taking good care and make us feel at home,” she told Bernama at a tree- planting event to mark the five-day Pata annual meeting at the Borneo Convention Centre beginning last Friday.
Describing her experience when she first set foot at the Kuching International Airport, Manoharn said she was amazed by the scenic surrounding and cleanliness of the airport.
“I was so surprised at the airport, it’s so beautiful, it’s very clean and brand new. I’ve never been to Sarawak before and Kuching especially,” she said.
She said the Borneo Convention Centre, the venue of the meeting, has state-of-the-art facilities.
“The venue itself is very good and the people there did their best to make us feel comfortable,” she said.
On the meeting, Manoharn said Pata elected a new chairman, Hiran Cooray, from Sri Lanka and a new team of board committee members.
The meeting also addressed several matters including deciding Macau as the next venue for Pata meeting in September and Beijing to host the meeting in April 2011.
On Kuching City as a host, Manoharn said the delegates were impressed with the city.
“Even I’ve limited time, I still find time to visit the Orang Utans and they’re wonderful. The lush greenery and how they preserve the environment are really impressive,” she said.
“I think nature lovers will like to come here as there are not many places like this in the world,” she added.
Newly-elected chairman Cooray said he and the delegates had a fantastic experience of Sarawak and its people.
He was impressed with Sarawak’s fast pace of development compared with when they came for a Pata meeting in 2002.
“The development in the city is well spread out and the facilities are world class. I think it is going in the right direction. I see a good future for Sarawak to be an eco-tourism attraction as the state is 60 per cent under forest cover and this is excellent, he said.
Tourism Malaysia Industry Development director Zulkifly Md Said said the Pata annual meeting is an annual agenda on Pata calendar. The meeting is rotated among Pata members.
“When Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines and Sarawak Convention Bureau did the bidding, initially we were looking at various destinations in Malaysia and I think we made the right choice in picking Kuching as the venue.
“Looking into one of Pata’s main agenda, which is environment, culture, and heritage preservation, the venue fitted very well into the agenda.
“Of course, the Malaysian hospitality has always been second to none and Kuching is no exception to that.
“The delegates were very happy and really enjoyed themselves with the hospitality, cultural performance by the Sarawak cultural village people, and today is the tree planting as a symbolic gesture between Pata and the various organisations here including Tourism Malaysia to commemorate Pata annual meeting being held here. — Bernama