KUCHING: Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg is positive that Sarawak’s tourist arrivals will exceed 4.6 million this year, given the increasing number of flights.
He said SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, had reviewed its frequency from three times a week to daily.
Without going into details, he added that there was a possibility of other airlines increasing the frequency and introducing chartered flights following positive comments from foreign travellers.
Last year alone, the state received 4.6 million tourists, up 300,000 from the figure of 2013.
“Our tourist arrivals last year saw an additional 300,000 compared to 4.3 million recorded in 2013,” he said when launching the gallery and resource centre of Sarawak Sikh Temple Association yesterday.
Abang Johari, who is also Minister of Housing, said several foreign individuals had hailed the state as a “real cosmopolitan neighbourhood”.
He said a great many of them were impressed by the harmony of Sarawak despite its diverse ethnics and religions.
Taking pride in this, he believed Sarawak is an exemplary example for not just Peninsular Malaysia but the world to emulate when it comes to tolerance and understanding among its populace.
“It is important for us to protect this (harmony) because the future lies in how people unite among themselves.”
Touching on the Haji Taha P Ramlee Triangle development plan, Abang Johari said the Sikh temple sat right in the middle of what the master plan covered.
“This temple is a heritage building and we have a great plan to build up this part of the city. We have engaged both international and local consultants to see how we can turn this heritage part of the city into a modern attraction while manifesting the cultural heritage.”
At the function, Abang Johari and Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, who was also present, pledged a government grant of RM30,000 each for the association.
Among those present were Datuk Bandar of Kuching North City Commission Datuk Abang Wahap Abang Julai, deputy mayor of Kuching South City Council Abang Affandi Abang Annuar, Temenggong Lu Kim Yong and president of Sarawak Sikh Temple Association Dr Kalwinder Singh Khaira.