KUCHING: The state will continue to push towards promoting its health tourism industry that has continued to garner a significant increase in tourist arrivals.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the health sector here had begun to receive a lot of attention within the region considering the cheaper cost of medical treatment with top class facilities and medical specialist.
He added that from January till June this year, the state recorded an increase of between 12 and 16 per cent in tourist arrivals compared to the corresponding period last year. Last year, the state recorded about 4.1 million in tourist arrivals.
“We (the state) have received many visitors from neighbouring Kalimantan and even Jakarta, Indonesia, who came to sought treatment at private hospitals here such as KPJ Kuching Specialist Hospital and Normah Medical Centre.
“The upcoming Borneo Specialist Centre, which will house medical specialists who had served in Singapore, is sure to bring in their own base of clients. Sarawak posed an advantage because treatment cost would be lower than Singapore.
“The main tourism sub sector that has garnered lots of attention is health tourism. The increasing medical facilities in the state would ensure improvement in the health tourism sector. Tourist arrivals would increase,” Abang Johari, who is also Housing Minister, told reporters when met at the ‘Jom Heboh’ carnival here yesterday.
Among those present were Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof and Malaysia Institute of Defence and Security (Midas) chief executive Lt Gen Dato Pahlawan Dr William R Stevenson.
In addition, he noted the state’s vast improving MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions) sector would also contribute to the increase in tourist arrivals. He said the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) had received bookings all-year-round, including next year.
Abang Johari said among the big conventions that would take place in the city is the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) to be held in January next year. ATF is expected to attract tourism players from all 10 Asean member countries, including three ATF 2014 partnering countries of Japan, Korea and China.
“These delegates will be here for about one week. Also present would be tourism ministers from all Asean countries. This will strengthen network between participating countries and aid the development of the tourism sectors in this region,” he continued.
From March 9 to 11, the city will also play host to the Routes Asia 2014 conference and exhibition, a premier annual event for the meeting of airlines and airport operators throughout Asia.