SARIKEI: The tourism industry has all the potentials to remain as one of the country’s major income earners.
Deputy Tourism Minister, Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said that after witnessing its steady growth over the past few years, he was confident that tourism, the country’s second largest industry would thrive by leaps and bounds in the coming years.
In that respect the ministry had targeted to attract over 36 million foreign tourists to visit the country annually from year 2020 onwards, he said at a briefing on the development of Sarikei local tourism industry at the Resident’s Office yesterday morning.
If the target was achieved, the industry could generate an annual income of RM168 billion for the country, he pointed out.
In 2009, a total of 23.6 million tourists visited the country with a total of RM53.4 million being spent, he noted.
Though, the official figure for last year was yet to be released, he believed it was bigger than 2009, said Dawos who estimated around 25 million visitors and generating revenue of about RM55 million.
“The country’s tourism industry has great potentials given its rich saleable products. We have rich culture of over 50 ethnic groups; beautiful and unique flora and fauna, historical places and many attractions,” he said.
He called on tourism players to be creative and innovative to convert the potentials of tourism products into monetary value.
“In that regards we have to adopt ‘think tourism, act tourism’ motto to keep us focus when thinking of ways and means to optimise exploitation of the industry,” he said.
At the moment he noted the tourism industry had been thriving on its ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ brand and the stable situation prevailing in the country, hence Dawos believed other approaches and strategies could also be applied.
“Once we are able to fully exploit the potentials of our tourism industry, I am confident that our target of attracting 36 million foreign tourists annually from 2020 onwards is achievable,” he said. Dawos also regarded tourism industry could also increase the income of rural folk which may have a lot to offer.
To help the rural folk cash on these potentials, the ministry have designed homestay programmes to enable the longhouse and village folk to enjoy a windfall from the growing tourism industry.
“Besides, they can earn more income by providing extra services such as bring the tourists around to share the local community’s lifestyle and daily activities,” said Dawos.
Later, Deputy Resident (Social) Alex Liau and (Development) Hamidah Halpi, brought Dawos for a site visit to the various tourist destinations such as Rumah Nyuka in Ulu Sarikei and Pala Munsoh waterfalls.