SIBU: Taken aback by the abrupt scrapping of the Borneo Cultural Festival, tourism players here called on Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) to either retract its decision or entrust NGOs to organise the event.
This was because the local tourism industry was just starting to take off with the coming of another low cost carrier, slated in July.
Local tour operators said the move had upset their plans and they suggested that NGOs such as United Chinese Association (UCA) take over from SMC to organise the festival.
“It is very sad and indeed I feel bad that BCF, among the biggest tourist attraction events in Sibu had been scrapped. The timing could not have been worse as FireFly is set to spread its wings here this July.
“What a pity that it has to turn out this way. Otherwise with the good air connectivity and competitive airfares, the event could have been effectively promoted as more tourists from the Peninsula would be enticed to come for the BCF,” managing director of Equitorial Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd Robert Tan told The Borneo Post yesterday, urging SMC to consider retracting its decision.
Tan argued that the better connectivity could have spurred more economic activities for the locals to cushion the higher cost of living, pointing out that the event ought to have been organised on a grander scale.
SMC during its council meeting on Wednesday, decided to scrap the event, which entered its ninth
Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King was reported to have said the decision was made with a heavy heart, given that majority of the local populace did not appreciate the work of the Sibu BN Visionary Team, compelling them to cancel the signature event.
Tan said BCF had become very popular with the locals and tourists alike, pulling out the ‘plug’ now would cause Sibu to further lag behind Kuching and Miri in terms of tourism products.
“An abrupt end to the event would conjure a negative view among the public on the council,” he figured.
Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong Sie Lee echoed Tan’s view and suggestion that NGOs such as UCA be entrusted to organise BCF.
He lamented that Sibu had been short of places of attractions and removing the event would compound the woe.
Like Tan, Wong felt sorry that the event was dropped particularly when another low cost carrier was about to operate here.
He figured competitive package could have been worked out between airlines and hotels if BCF were to continue.
He, however, said the scrapping of BCF would not affect the business of hotels.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sarawak Chapter’s liaison officer for Sibu Roy Ting did not discount the possibility that domestic tourism may be affected by the scrapping of BCF.
He said the business of hotels would not be affected but called for BCF to be continued.
Meanwhile, Sibu Great United Club (SGUC) chairman Chua Tung Wei was relieved that the cancellation would not have deep impact on the organisation.
“We have slotted one to two stage programmes for BCF. It is ok as we will not be affected by the surprise decision,” he noted.
Chua however, lamented that some of his friends in JB and Kuala Lumpur had booked their air tickets in advance for the BCF.
“They are now in a dilemma as it is not easy to do cancellation at the last minute,” he noted.
He too felt BCF ought to be continued to boost the tourism industry here.