Monday, November 28
GE15

6 percent hike in visitor arrival first quarter this year — Abg Jo

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KUCHING: The first quarter of this year saw an increase of six per cent in the number of tourists coming to Sarawak over the same period last year.

With this trend and the many events in the state’s tourism calendar in line with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014, Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg expressed optimism that visitor arrivals will be higher than last year’s.

“The figure is very encouraging and especially so for the medical tourist sector which also recorded an increase,” he said in his speech before the dinner to bid farewell to out-going staff of his ministry at Magenta Restaurant here on Tuesday Night.

“Despite the many challenges and obstacles, the state government is working hard to make the state a tourist destination and we have done good. The ministry is very thankful to your contribution and hard work,” he added.

The challenge now, he said, is really about connectivity though he is positive that the state can bring in quality tourists, especially from Hong Kong and Singapore.

“We are negotiating to bring in charter flights from Hong Kong and we had spoken to Singapore Minister of Trade to get more Singapore Airlines and Silk Air flights to fly to Kuching and the state,” he enthused.

“There is a new attraction and tourism product next year with the Asia International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) coming to Kuching as it will be the permanent venue for every two years and the further upgrading of the city heritage site and buildings, which should bring in more tourists,” he elaborated.

He said he had spoken to Kuching North City Commision (DBKU) on the need for the road from Main Bazaar to Gambier Street to be lighted up, to emulate Orchard Road in Singapore during festive seasons.

He added that the ministry was collaborating with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) to work with the private sector on the ‘Hop On and Hop Off’ buses to bring tourists to the major attractions in the city.

“All these tourist facilities and services will be implemented soon,” he said.

He also encouraged rental of bikes and cycling in the city, and sought private sector participation.

In addition, he disclosed that national parks like Bako, Kubah, Semenggoh, Mulu and Lambir will be upgraded with value added facilities for the convenience of tourists.

He thanked the outgoing staff for their contribution to the ministry and urged the new staff to contribute ideas on how to make tourists feel more comfortable.

Among those at the dinner were his wife Datin Amar Jumaani Tuanku Bujang, Assistant Minister of Tourism (Local Events and Products) Datuk Gramong Juna and permanent secretary to Ministry of Tourism Datu Ik Pahon Joyik.