KUCHING: MASwings’ limited seats and refusal to outsource the Mulu National Park route to others is bad for the state’s tourism industry.
Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik said MASwing’s stranglehold on that sector had capped the number of visitors to the world-renown park, which was awarded the prestigious world heritage recognition by Unesco in 2000.
“At the rate it is going, it is not helping the state government in promoting tourism sector due to its poor connectivity,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
In appealing to the airline to improve its connectivity to Mulu National Park, Ik Pahon said, “We have a world heritage site but MASwings is not doing enough to assist us in providing more flights there.
He opined that MASwings should outsource the service to others if it could not service that route properly.
Meanwhile, Ik Pahon urged tourism players to be more aggressive by promoting Mulu National Park and Kinabalu National Park as a twin package for mutual benefits.
“Both Mulu National Park and Kinabalu National Park have been described as the paradise of Borneo. However, we are still not able to capitalise on their huge potential.
But he was glad the local community, especially the Berawans, was setting up more homestay for visitors in the area.
“So far, the Berawans has set up at least 10 homestay near Mulu National Park. This means visitors now have the choice whether to stay in a 5-star resort or in a longhouse setting.
On the overall tourism sector, Ik Pahon, who is also Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer, said the state hoped to record some five million tourist arrivals this year, 500,000 more than last year’s.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) deputy general manager (Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division) Oswald Braken Tisen revealed that Bako National Park and Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary remained the top tourist destinations compared with other national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the state.
He said both attractions received some 50,000 visitors annually.
Sarawak has 35 national parks, 14 wildlife sanctuaries and four nature reserves spanning 903,769.4 hectares in total.