Tuesday, July 14

Good air connectivity needed to lure tourists

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SIBU: It is necessary to have better air connectivity to better promote the ‘treasures’ of Rajang River to the outside world.

Managing director of Equitorial Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd Robert Tan opined that having good tourism products alone would not go far unless fueled by good air accessibility.

“We have rare fish species such as ‘empurau’, which tourists from Singapore and the peninsula crave for. They would not be able to find such fresh water fish anywhere else.

“But to facilitate these tourists coming here, good air connectivity is required. Perhaps, airlines could consider flying the Sibu/Singapore route.

“This is because tourists will be enticed to come if the tickets are competitive and flights are convenient,” Tan said when asked on the rebranding of Rajang River to tap tourism potential.

Recently, Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit suggested that the rebranding should include factors that would lure more tourists to the longest river in Malaysia.

Dawos said visitors would be very curious about ‘empurau’ and that night cruise along the river could be another tourist attraction.

Increasing flight frequencies such as Sibu/KL and Sibu/JB routes would do wonders for the tourism industry here, Tan suggested.

Again stressing the importance of good air connectivity, he said: “The only way to travel to Sarawak is by air.”

Asked about concerns by airlines that the load factor might be inconsequential to sustain their profitability, the managing director indicated even during low season, the load factor was around 70 per cent.

Thus, he argued that if the air tickets were not competitive, tourists would opt to visit other places such as Hong Kong.

Asked on night cruise, Tan reckoned that while the idea was good, more needed to be done to better promote such package.

Asked what he meant, he replied, saying the river traffic at Rajang River needed to be improved.

He did not discount the fact that night view was a picturesque one while the ambience could be augmented by rolling out karaoke singing.

On a related matter, he said travellers preferred the package costing about RM2,000.

“This package is very saleable compared to those within the range of RM3,000 to RM4,000 which is meant for high end markets,” he said.