KUCHING (Feb 17): A new version of Sarawak’s Sia Sitok campaign is set to be launched next month following its success in keeping domestic tourism afloat amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, said Sia Sitok 2.0 will have 60 packages, which is double that in the initial programme launched in July last year and set to end on March 31 this year.
“The wider range of domestic tour packages will create more interest among its locals to travel widely in our state while benefiting the tour industry as a whole,” he said on his blog, ‘YB Karim says…’, today.
“With the availability of Covid-19 vaccination, domestic travel within Malaysia and Sarawak is expected to slowly recover in the second half of 2021 anticipating a total visitor arrival of 1.1 million with an estimated tourism receipt of RM2.64 billion receipt. However, this estimated target will depend very much on the Covid-19 global situation.”
He said the initial campaign had generated more than RM1.5 million in sales through 941 tour packages, involving some 5,668 holidaymakers.
Under the current campaign, holidaymakers enjoy a discount of 50 per cent on rates with some 30 packages on offer including destinations like the Bako National Park, Matang Telaga Air and the Kuching Wetlands, and tours such as frog and bird watching, Irrawaddy Dolphin watching, and the Sarawak River Sunset Cruise.
Karim conceded that the state’s tourism industry had suffered due to the pandemic but expressed confidence that it would bounce back.
He said last year, the number of visitor arrivals to Sarawak had dropped 74 per cent to 1,199,872 as compared to 4,662,419 in the corresponding period in 2019 due to the pandemic.
The tourism receipt had declined 75% to RM2.88 billion as compared to the same corresponding period in 2019, he added.
“The pandemic itself had caused the tourism industry to suffer an estimated total loss of RM8.69 billion.
“Nevertheless, I believe that we still can revive our tourism industry by boosting the domestic tourism activities with our ‘Sia Sitok Sarawak Tour Package’. It will enhance the people’s confidence to travel domestically while the borders are still closed,” said Karim.
The minister also said that due to the pandemic, the state must develop its digital technology-based tourism industry to ensure the success of its rehabilitation plans for the tourism industry.
The utilisation of Sarawak Travel App as part of Sarawak’s tourism promotion campaign, he said, was vital as it could be a great promotion and marketing tool.
“By enhancing the Sarawak Travel App under the 12th Malaysia Plan, we can integrate it as an e-commerce platform to enable tour agencies to promote and sell their tour packages online. This will provide a convenient one-stop service for tourist to search info on places and available tour packages for purchase.
“Ultimately, this boils down in providing a secure and reliable digital platform for our industry players to boost their income and revive the tourism industry,” said Abdul Karim.
In addition, he said comprehensive visitor data was also important for proper tourism contribution assessment and effective tourism policy formulation.
He revealed that among other digital initiatives planned include the S-MM2H online application, Digital Visitors Landing App, digitalization of Sarawak Tourism Satellite Account (STSA) and Digital Visitor Tracking App.