KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan yesterday refuted claims that the number of tourist arrivals in the state had dropped.
According to him, tourist arrivals had in fact increased by 30 per cent, with the bulk of them coming from the Peninsula, Brunei Darusallam and Indonesia.
“With the connectivity between Kuching and Korea, also Japan, this is our focus market to promote our tourism industry.
“For the time being, we are doing aggressive regional marketing strategy focusing our promotion in the Asian countries including India,” Rashid said.
Describing such connectivity as an investment, Rashid said he was confident that the future return would be good because Asian countries were considered a high-yield market.
He said what he hoped to see was greater collaboration between STB and industry players such as the hoteliers, tour guides and entertainment outlets in order to drive the tourism industry forward.
“Greater collaboration is our best bet to ensure continuing increase in tourist arrivals.” he told reporters at the Chinese New Year appreciation dinner for STB’s tourism partners at a restaurant here Tuesday night.
Rashid also said STB would maintain its activities in the country while working hard on regional marketing promotion despite the fragile economic growth environment in Europe and America.
He also pointed out that Sarawak was the second largest domestic market and gained about 11.5 per cent of the market share of the 90 million domestic tourists.
He highlighted that most foreign arrivals were from Asean countries and that certain segments, like the homestay programme, would benefit rural folk.
“For example, tourists from Australia love to stay in the villages for a different experience. This is something we try to build up to benefit the local population.” he said, adding that the tourism was not only meant for big hotels or big investors.
“However those who run the homestay programme must have other activities to support it so that tourists can participate in them,” he said.
On the tourism revenue, Rashid said the state earned about RM6 billion last year.
On the Singapore Integrated Packages (SIP), he said the response was encouraging.
Also present at the dinner was Borneo Convention Centre Kuching CEO Paul D’Arcy.