Monday, July 22

RM15 bln from tourism in 2015

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STB’s projection based on industry’s ability to attract 7.5 million visitors – CEO

NEW LABORATORY: Rashid (second right) giving a briefing on the functions of STB’s laboratory. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: Sarawak is targeting some 7.5 million tourist arrivals in 2015 which will churn in a staggering RM15 billion, said Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan.

This year alone, Sarawak is expected to attract some 4 million tourists and rack in some RM8.68 billion to the state coffers.

He said the target is achievable based on STB’s proper planning with other stakeholders such as hoteliers, tour operators, logistics providers, especially air transport providers, to improve air connectivity.

Besides value-added products and services, STB is also looking at new overseas markets in addition to its traditional markets such as Europe, Australia, the United States, Japan, China, South Korea and other South East Asian countries.

“We have to start looking seriously at countries in the Middle East and India as they have big spending power.

“At the moment they are only reaching Peninsular Malaysia, so we have to slowly penetrate their market so that they would visit Sarawak,” Rashid told The Borneo Post at STB’s office here yesterday.

He pointed out that STB’s emphasis is to provide the stake-holders, especially the private sector, the opportunity to venture into new markets that could attract more tourists to Sarawak.

“Sarawak offers one of the best eco-tourism products in the world. Just look at our rivers, mountains and caves, they are of world standard.

“On top of that we are contributing oxygen to the world from our forest.

“This we can always sell to tourists from the Middle East where all these things are a rarity,” he pointed out.

Rashid also stressed that given the budget of only RM9 million from the state government for this year, STB has to maximise its resources to yield good returns.

“We will have to maximise our RM4.5 million marketing budget. We have to be prudent in our spending by collaborating with all the tourism players and stakeholders,” he emphasised.

Rashid also stressed that STB would be sourcing out some of the main tourism products such as the renowned Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) and the Borneo Jazz Festival which have become the state’s icons.

“With a limited budget, we have to get sponsors and outsource these events so that we will get the best returns.

“After all, STB only coordinates to ensure that all the money made by these festivals will benefit the stakeholders and the state,” he said.

Rashid, who was a former commercial director of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) before he was appointed as STB’s CEO on November 16, 2009, had also introduced the in-house laboratory to enhance its effectiveness and to maximise its resources.