KUCHING: Sarawak has three world-renowned tourism products, namely Sarawak Cultural Village, Rainforest World Music Festival and Mulu National Park, with the latter even recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
However, none of these major products made it to the 20th Malaysia Tourism Award which was published as an advertorial in The Borneo Post yesterday.
When asked for his comments, Minister of Tourism Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said he would not like to interfere with the decision of the organising committee.
“However, I am quite surprised that even though Sarawak has three world-renowned tourism products such as Sarawak Cultural Village, Rainforest World Music Festival and Mulu National Park, none of them got the award,” said Abdul Karim when contacted yesterday.
He hoped that all stakeholders in the state’s tourism industry would take note of the Malaysia Tourism Awards in future as it could boost the image of the state tourism industry.
“Awards are recognition in any competition. Thus, I hope that our tourism players will take note of this seriously in future,” he said.
Abdul Karim was, however, happy that the Lepau Restaurant in Kuching has won the ‘Ethic Restaurant Award’, which comes under the ‘Innovative Restaurant’ category.
“Lepau Restaurant has made Sarawak proud as it is one of the restaurants that offer authentic native cuisine. We hope there will be many such restaurants to be set up in future to portray the state’s rich racial diversity.”
The Malaysia Tourism Award is organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia in collaboration with the private sector. Besides the ‘Innovative Restaurant’ category, there are 15 other categories.
On a related issue, Abdul Karim said he was disappointed that his federal counterpart Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz visited Mulu National Park last week without informing his office.
“I was told of his visit to Mulu National Park last week. I have the photos and I know who are in the entourage. It shows the real character of the person,” said a bemused Abdul Karim.
Both men have not been on good terms after a spate of political rhetoric following the introduction of the tourism tax last year, which the state was not happy with.
Meanwhile, Abdul Karim revealed that tourism receipts last year was RM8 billion, and hoped it would improve this year.
“Tourist arrivals last year were slightly lower than expected, which is 4.86 million visitors as against our target of five million.
“We hope to achieve our target of 5.25 million visitors this year with a projected tourism receipts of slightly more than last year,” he added.