State is also looking at attracting tourists from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore
KUCHING: China will be the main tourism market and focus of Sarawak followed by Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) senior officers at the Yayasan Sarawak building at Jalan Masjid here yesterday, Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin said they would have to focus on a few markets rather than all over the place.
“This year our main focus will be China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore but we will also be looking at our domestic market, particularly (arrivals) from Peninsular Malaysia,” he added.
Lee said the number of arrivals from the twice-weekly Hong Kong-Kuching route which started last May 28 was very encouraging, the number of inbound tourists 1,156 to-date.
At the same time, he said state tourism players would need to change their marketing strategy now that the ministry has identified the internet and television documentaries as the main sources of information on Sarawak.
Though conventional ways of marketing using pamphlets, travel magazines and word of mouth or personal references may still be relevant, 92 per cent of tourists now browse the internet for information on destinations.
On tourists from China, he said 70 per cent of them are married couples and 50 per cent of them, males.
“We are working on a new strategy and direction as we cannot continue with the conventional ways. We are also working on new marketing initiatives,” he said of the state’s efforts to tap the huge China market.
In addition, tourism players in the state need to identify big tour operators in China to collaborate with, he said, adding that the newly set-up Malaysian Inbound Travel Association will be working towards this effort.
Lee cited Sarawak Cultural Village and various national parks like Bako, Mulu and Semenggoh, World Rainforest Music Festival, Borneo Jazz Festival, business and investment conferences, sports and education seminars as places and events that attract tourists.
“The Chinese nationals even went for deep sea fishing in Miri,” he said.
He disclosed that Beijing-based television station CCTV4 was now in Sarawak to document the state’s culture and tradition, which he hoped would attract viewers to Sarawak.
Once completed, the documentaries are expected to attract 200 million viewers.
Lee hoped Chinese nationals would invest in Sarawak’s hotel industry to make Sarawak more attractive to their people.
He urged the media to intensify the promotion of Sarawak’s places of interests, culture and local delicacies by producing beautiful photos of them.
He told the tourism promoters to be good in story telling so as to woo tourists more effectively.
On another pertinent matter, Lee said the banning of extremists and religious bigots into Sarawak had succeeded in allaying the fear of tourists being an IS threat.
Nevertheless, he reminded the relevant authorities to step up their preventive measures and remain vigilant at all times to maintain peace and order.
“They must obtain early information on tourists and step up preventive measures,” he said.