KUCHING: Local tourism industry players must band together and show tourists that Sarawak is a destination they won’t regret visiting.
With new flight routes added at end of last year and tourism infrastructure such as hotels coming up ‘we must now make sure that visitors leave here satisfied with their experience’, said Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youths and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
“We have seen new hotel expansions and development, and even new hospitals. Health tourism here has been quite an achievement. Even when Kuching is considered to be quite small, there are six private hospitals,” he said, adding that health tourism is developing very fast, with the Pontianak sector being an important factor.
Abdul Karim added that apart from health tourism, there is also education tourism and sports tourism to explore and cultivate in order to bring more tourists into Sarawak.
He was speaking during the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Appreciation Night on Monday.
“On sports tourism, we have managed to secure a lot of big events for the next two years. When the athletes, crew and fans come over, they will have to stay at hotels, they will have to visit restaurants and places of interest.”
However, STB and local stakeholders still have to be pro-active in enticing visitors and going up against competition from around South East Asia, he added.
“The tourism industry is very much affected by the slowdown of world economy, but very resilient. We can rise up to the occasion when the environment is right.”
Abdul Karim said that they would continue to enhance the product experience and focus in the marketplace, together with Tourism Malaysia and tourism industry players.
In the same event, STB honoured four of their staff for excellent service and one for long service.
STB also presented former ministry permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik with a memento and wished him well in his new posting at the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development.
Also present at the event were Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin; Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan
Lawan; the ministry’s new permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee; STB chairman Abdul Wahab Aziz and deputy CEO Mary Wan Mering.