KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), in collaboration with Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), has launched a new river cruise service – the ‘Sayang Sarawak’ catamaran – making the convention centre the first in Malaysia to offer meeting and event service on cruise.
The catamaran, built in the state, will ply two routes – from Kuching Waterfront to BCCK and from Kuching Isthmus marina bay to the mouth of Sungai Sarawak at Muara Tebas.
It can accommodate about 40 persons theatre style on the lower deck and 30 persons cocktail fashion on the upper deck. The cruise packages can be customised according to requirements set by clients.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with STB to create a niche product for the business events market. BCCK is the first convention centre in Malaysia to offer meeting and event service on cruise. This latest addition to our range of service will enhance delegate experience as business and social events can now be conducted on water rather than being confined to brick and mortar.
“The cruise will take conference delegates pass quaint villages, verdant jungles and wetlands along the Sarawak River – this experience is one of a kind in Malaysia, if not the world. We are looking forward to offering this innovative product to our local and foreign clients by bringing our meeting and event services with our food and beverage on board the Sayang Sarawak,” BCCK chief executive officer Eric van Piggelen said at the launch of the cruise service at Kuching Isthmus marina jetty here yesterday.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg was present to witness the launch.
“This cruise will offer new tourism products on what we can offer in Kuching,” he said when officiating.
To intensify Sungai Sarawak as a tourism product for the city, he mentioned that under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the state was considering to beautify the river including the section at Kuching Waterfront.
In addition, a cascading waterfall will be built at the compound of Fort Margherita to beautify the area and it will be installed with lighting for greater scenery effect at night, he said.
Abang Johari also suggested the river cruise continue all the way to Tabuan and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), and areas at Muara Tebas overlooking the mouth of Sungai Sarawak be redeveloped to increase tourism appeal.
On another note, he mentioned that Kuching-Hong Kong direct flights would begin on April 26.
He expected the route to increase tourist arrival here especially from North American countries as well as those surrounding Kazakhstan region in Central Asia.
He believed the tropical weather in Sarawak would be appealing during winter seasons, citing as an example Da Nang in Vietnam which has become a popular tourist destination for visitors from Vladivostok, Russia.
He disclosed that his ministry was working with Silk Air and Singapore Airlines to enhance the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions) market between Sarawak and Singapore.
“Singapore has strong MICE market but they can only offer their international conference participants the meeting experience and city atmosphere. By collaborating with Sarawak, they can offer these delegates the experience of adventure and ecotourism,” he reasoned.