THE Ministry of Tourism is in discussions with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and other airlines on the possibility of increasing the number of flights to Sibu.
Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip stated that this is part of efforts to promote Sibu and other areas in the central region as tourism destinations.
“However, it should be taken into account that the airline companies are business entities and the final decision on whether an airline should fly into Sibu or other destinations depends on the load factor,” he said adding that tourism-related infrastructure and services will also be planned and implemented accordingly.
He was responding to a question by Wong Ho Leng (DAP-Bukit Asek) on the ministry’s plans to make full use of the extended Sibu Airport.
“The extension of Sibu Airport was undertaken to cater to passengers flying to the central region in anticipation of the rapid development in Sibu and the SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy) area of Tanjung Manis in Mukah,” said Talib.
On the state revenue’s from the tourism industry for Sibu from 2005 until now, he stated it had increased from RM37.6 million in 2005 to RM283 million in 2011.
In response to Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi (BN-Pantai Damai) on the government’s plan to improve flight schedules for Sarawakians and to encourage more tourists to visit the state, Talib said his ministry and the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) have always encouraged both local and international airlines to increase or introduce flights to the state.
He said Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has informed the state government of plans to increase flights to the state in the next six months while MASwings is awaiting the Ministry of Transport’s approval to run flights from Kuching to Balikpapan.
He added that STB, Sarawak Tourism Federation and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board are also working to attract chartered flights from countries such as China, Japan and South Korea to the state.