KUCHING: Sarawak received more than 5,000 tourists from Middle East countries during the first nine months of this year, its highest so far.
According to Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, though the number is not significant it is a great development as the state is gearing for more visitor arrivals in the years to come.
“The code sharing partnership between Malaysia Airlines and Emirates Airline recently announced is great news as we can promote our state through the code sharing initiatives,” said Abang Johari when speaking at the opening ceremony of the Yemen Festival at Majma Mall, Jalan P Ramlee yesterday.
He expressed confidence that with the recent opening of VivaCity Megamall, the largest shopping complex in Sarawak, and several upcoming malls the state would be able to cater to the needs of Arab tourists.
“We are also having our new Tabung Haji Hotel, scheduled to be open in two years’ time which will feature among others a separate swimming pool for males and females. These and other facilities will cater well to Arab tourists too,” he said.
What was important, he added, was for the state to enforce tourism friendly policies at all times and to ensure that it has much to offer to visitors so that it will become the destination of choice for outsiders.
In lauding the organisers for holding the event, Abang Johari said it would help locals to have a greater understanding of Arab culture, lifestyle, food, clothing and products. The festival is expected to be held until Dec 20.
Also present were State Islamic Council (MIS) president Datu Putit Matzen and event organising chairman Shaikh Helmi Al-Arashi.