KUCHING: An airline from Taiwan is keen to mount direct flights between Taipei and Kuching.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state government was now negotiating with the airline, which he declined to name.
“That airline from Taiwan is serious (in starting direct flights to Kuching),” he told a press conference here yesterday.
“They (airline representatives) might be coming to Kuching to meet local players and to assess the logistics here. That is why our players should upgrade and fine tune their services.”
Abang Johari said he believed tourists from Taiwan were important as it would also give the state the opportunity to tap the South Korean market.
He added he would be going to Taiwan in September to finalise the matter and hoped an agreement could be reached by year-end.
Meanwhile, Abang Johari said the state government was also negotiating with another airline, but he declined to give details of this airline, for now.
On a related development, he said response to the direct flights from Hong Kong to Kuching by Hong Kong Airlines had been very encouraging, with an average load of over 80 per cent.
“The people coming in are tourists from mainland China and Hong Kong.”
He said as a result of increasing tourist arrivals from China, hotels and tourism spots like Top Spot seafood centres were always full.
“I was told that for Top Spot, if you don’t reserve early, there will be no place to dine. After Top Spot, the tourists also liked to go to Kuching Waterfront.”
Abang Johari said with more arrivals of Chinese tourists, the state was also eager to promote the history and connection between the state and China, particularly the link with Santubong.
“I was told by (the late) Tun Lim Chong Eu that in Chinese history, Santubong is known as ‘San Tau Bong’, and there is something to do with the Chinese princess.
“He showed me a profile similar to a pregnant lady lying down. So, he said there is a link. Another connection is ceramics, which connect us with China.”