Sunday, June 16

‘Use marketing to promote tourism industry’


GRAND OPENING: Abang Johari strikes a gong to open Citadines Uplands Kuching, a new 215 unit service residential property in the city. Looking on (from left) are Chan, Ik Pahon, Tan, Long and Sim. — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi.

KUCHING: Hotel industry players are urged to use their marketing and promotional strength to promote Sarawak and spur her tourism industry.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said hotels could take advantage of their brand and global network to create awareness on tourist products.

The state is looking to aggressively promote its products to tourists from mainland China, Korea, Japan and the Middle Eastern.

Abang Johari said China alone has tourists estimated to grow from 60 million to 200 million annually.

“If the state can attract at least one per cent of the China tourist market, that is good enough. For visit Malaysia Year in 2014, the country has estimated some 26 million tourist arrivals, generating income up to RM76 billion.”

From January to August this year, the state has attracted 2.8 million tourist arrivals of which 60 per cent are foreign tourists, he said when officiating at the opening of Citadines Uplands Kuching here yesterday.

Also present were The Acott Limited regional general manager for Malaysia and Singapore, Tan Boon Khai; Kuching City South mayor Datuk James Chan, Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, Kenbest Sdn Bhd managing director Stephen Long and executive director Sim Ewe Kee.

Abang Johari who is also housing minister said the state is looking to market its orangutan conservation effort including its Kuching Wetland National Park (first Ramsar site in the state), national parks, crocodile sanctuaries, deepsea fishing (angling sports) and health tourism among others.

“Sarawak has more orangutans than Sabah but Sabah is more famous due to its extensive marketing. Western Australia is famous for its pinnacles which is nothing compared to Mulu pinnacles but the difference is the marketing.

“Most of the Middle Eastern and East Asian market love flexibility but not tight schedules. They want to take their time to explore. These are the things the hotel industry can look into when promoting tourism packages for the state.

“Tourism and hotel industry players can come up with promotional packages to complement their products,” he suggested.

He said health tourism has potential in the state considering the availability of modern medical facilities and personnel at lower cost than other countries in the region, besides less traffic on the road, beautiful environment and clean air.

Abang Johari said the state is also looking to take advantage of north-south bound tourists such as those travelling from Australia to Europe and vice versa.

In addition, tourism players should take advantage of the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) on Jan 16, where some 2,000 delegates are expected to throng the city. ATF is expected to pull tourism players from 10 Asean member countries including three ATF 2014 partnering Japan, Korea and China.

From March 9 to 11, the city will play host to the Routes Asia 2014 conference and exhibition, a premier annual event for the meeting of airlines and airport operators throughout Asia. Some 2,000 delegates are expected to attend the conference.