KUCHING: Overall tourist arrivals into Malaysia in the first eight months this year showed an increase of 5.2 percent compared to the corresponding period last year. But, unfortunately, for Sarawak, it registered a negative growth.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan, who is also Tourism and Heritage Minister, said visitors’ arrivals into Sarawak from January to August this year were 2,063,240. This is a drop of 1.5 percent when compared to the same period last year.
Foreign arrivals decreased by 11.97 percent but domestic arrivals showed an increase of 17 percent during the periods under study.
Representing Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud to launch `Transforming Sarawak Tourism Conference 2010’ here yesterday, Dr Chan said that out of the 2,063,240 tourist arrivals into the state, 1,180,955 of them were internationals and the remaining 882,285 were from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
“Unfortunately, while the country recorded positive figures ours was negative. This is a shame because although Sarawak is not so blessed with proximity and connectivity from major markets, we have valuable assets that we can capitalise on. This includes our hospitality and our services.
“However, by giving visitors only our attractive smile is not enough now. We have to be more knowledgeable in order to add some flavour to the products that we sell. No matter how much we can offer but if we do not know how to sell and promote them then it is still pointless,” he said.
Towards this end, Dr Chan urged all tourism industry players to take a relook at their approaches and to find ways to regain the confidence of the market.
Besides having to be more creative and innovative, Dr Chan reminded the players that to realise the fact that no single player could survive on their own.
“The tourism industry works in a chain of symbiotic relationships. Travel agents cannot offer an ultimate holiday experience without the support and partnership of hoteliers or products suppliers.
“The industry cannot afford a broken link in the chain. The value chain, where each stakeholder is part of the chain, denotes the strength of the destination,” he said, adding that partnerships between the public and private sectors were inevitable in the tourism industry if they wanted to remain competitive.
Also present at the opening were Assistant Tourism and Heritage Ministers Datuk Talip Zulpilip and Mong Dagang, and the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik.