MIRI: The Xpress Air Indonesia inaugural flight to Miri from Pontianak in Indonesia represents a significant milestone in Sarawak’s tourism calender and the cooperation between the state and Kalimantan.
In stating this, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state was excited to have this twice weekly flight from Pontianak to Miri which he hoped would strengthen the relationship between Sarawak and Kalimantan.
“This will also help in enhancing not only the tourism activities but also business from both places,” he said during a ceremony to welcome the inaugural Pontianak-Miri Express Air flight at Miri Airport yesterday afternoon.
His text-of-speech was read by Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin.
Present were consul-general of Indonesia in Kuching, Jahar Gultom, Xpress Air director HF Filman, Miri mayor Adam Yii, Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting, Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Miri Resident Sherrina Hussain.
According to Abdul Karim, Indonesia has always been one of Sarawak’s important markets, and arrivals from Indonesia into Sarawak have been steadily growing every year.
He hopes that this connectivity would draw interest of travellers from Indonesia to experience the different cultures and adventures that Miri and Sarawak have to offer besides connecting and expanding the network between Indonesia and Sarawak.
“Xpress Air Indonesia has a wounderful slogan, which is ‘Terbanglah Indonesia’, in anticipation of future endeavours between us and in appreciation or our Indonesian visitors, I would like to say ‘Terbang Indonesia ke Sarawak’,” he said.
He further said that Miri was rapidly becoming one of Sarawak’s most popular tourist destinations and as a recort city, it offers a wide range of tourism activities set against its rich cultural and historical backdrop such as the Oil Well No. 1, which is known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ situated on top of Canada Hill, a limestone ridge overlooking the city and offering excellent views of Miri and the surrounding area.
He added that the launch of the direct flight was timely for Miri which will be holding its Visit Miri Year in 2018 with its tagline ‘Discover Miri, uniquely Borneo’.
“While we are able to share some similiarities with our neighbours on this island of Borneo, there are still many unique attractions to be enjoyed by visitors to our beautiful city – a prime destination for culture, nature and adventure tourism,” he said.
“Miri is also an education hub and Curtin University, one of the international universities, was set up here in 1999. For visitors seeking medical healthcare, we have a number of private healthcare providers such as Miri City Medical Centre and Columbia Asia, and two new private hospitals are currently under construction,” he added.
Meanwhile, 108 passengers and Xpress Air Indonesia crew members arrived at Miri Airport yesterday afternoon.
HF Filman said besides attracting visitors from Miri and Brunei, they also targeted Indonesians working in plantations and sawmills in Sarawak.
And if the demand is good, they would extend the flight to other parts of Indonesia, he added.