KUCHING: The state government has approved RM60 million to boost the Sarawak tourism industry this year.
This was revealed by Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin yesterday after chairing the Annual Sarawak Tourism Steering and Co-ordination Committee Meeting for 2017 on the behalf of Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg who is also Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister.
“The ministry’s 2017 directions are to concentrate on key result area implementation to create new growth in the service sector. The key result projects for 2017 include branding for Sarawak, product enhancement, new product development and variety, promotions and marketing, and connectivity and capacity building.
“Funding of RM60 million has been approved to create new growth and branding which covers events and festivals, facilities and infrastructure, product development, promotion and marketing and studies,” Lee said.
He added that this year, the government is working on creating branding for Sarawak and positioning Sarawak as a tourist destination. The ministry is outsourcing specialists to do it.
Meanwhile, he said national tourist arrivals for 2016 was 26.7 million as compared to 25.7 million in 2015. The 2016 national tourist receipts increased to RM82.1 billion as compared to RM67 billion in 2015.
He added that Sarawak visitor arrivals in 2016 was 4.6 million, bringing an estimated tourism receipt of RM8.37 billion, equivalent to 7.89 per cent of the state’s GDP and contributing various job opportunities to the service sector and rural community through homestay programmes.
He also announced that the seventh Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards will be held on Nov 23 and 24. Nomination is open from now until June 30.
Awards in contention are for Outstanding Hotel and Accommodation Provider, Outstanding Destination Management Company, Outstanding Tourist Guide, Outstanding Food Outlet, Outstanding Cottage Industry Contribution, Outstanding Transport Contribution, Outstanding Media Contribution, Outstanding Tourism Attractions and Events and the Hornbill Special Award.
Winners will receive trophies, certificates, and cash incentives amounting to RM5,000 each except for Hornbill Special Award recipients who will receive cash incentives amounting to RM10,000 each.
On top of that, award recipients will also get marketing incentives amounting to RM3,000 each.
Lee also highlighted that a special allocation has been approved for charter flights this year.
“We have to start from somewhere. Charter flights could test the market and if they see good potential, they go into regular charter then normal scheduled flights,” Lee said.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture went through the programmes and activities planned for 2017 with agencies under the ministry, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and related organisations.
Also present were Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia state director Suriya Charles Buas, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, and Sarawak Tourism Federation president Philip Yong.