Tuesday, March 19

ATA 2019 able to highlight Sarawak on world’s tourism map – Abdul Karim

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KUCHING: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah looks forward to having the guests of the 23rd Asian Television Awards (ATA) here spread the word about ‘Sarawak hospitality’ and ‘Visit Sarawak Campaign’ in their home countries.

In this respect, he hopes that they would do Sarawak a little favour by ‘telling their folk back home’ about how much they have been enjoying the ‘Sarawak experience’ here.

“We are indeed proud to be this year’s host of the awards presentation ceremony because it has shown us that Kuching city is capable of winning your hearts,” he spoke during the ATA 2019 gala dinner at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on Friday.

Abdul Karim opined that the awards show had served its purpose well and would benefit many Sarawakians, especially those in the tourism industry.

He said Sarawak had never thought of becoming a host of this prestigious event.

“On behalf of Sarawak government and the local people, I thank you for having your wonderful event in Sarawak – also well known as ‘The Land of the Hornbills’.

“The hosting of this year’s ATA here is timely simply because we had launched our ‘Visit Sarawak Campaign (VSC) 2019’ on Jan 31 last year,” he added.

According to him, the VSC is an initiative by the Sarawak government, his ministry and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) with the primary objective of pushing the local tourism industry to greater heights.

He said the campaign also coincided with the efforts to diversify Sarawak’s economy and to push its tourism industry towards digital transformation.

Abdul Karim said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had envisioned that Sarawak must not be left behind in terms of digital transformation initiatives, including those slated for the tourism industry.

“This is why my ministry has undertaken the necessary measures and digital initiatives that are aimed at boosting our local tourism industry, which has great potential.

“This is why my ministry has fully supported the staging of this year’s ATA because it provides greater visibility to Sarawak on the world’s tourism map.”

Abdul Karim believed that the awards show itself would boost Sarawak’s position as ‘playing a good host’ to world-class entertainment stars and popular television personalities throughout Asia.

He regarded that it is a well-known fact that Asia is a wonderful melting pot of arts, unique cultures and traditions – thus, it is vital for the locals to get to know who they are as nations and within the context of Southeast Asia.

“We need to look into the aspect of identity-building and coming up with compelling stories that need to be told through various initiatives, which are some of the ways to engage others with.

“For us in Sarawak, we have great hopes and great plans to attract more visitors in the near future,” he said.

According to him, Sarawak received a total of 4.3 million visitors from all over the world – as at November last year.

“We believe the figures could be improved with better air connectivity, especially through special arrangements with other countries,” he added.