KUCHING (June 2): The Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office Singapore (Statos) has initiated a new marketing push to attract home buyers and long-staying visitors to Sarawak.
The strategic partnership between the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture of Sarawak (MTAC), Sarawak Housing and Property Developers Association (Sheda), Tourism Malaysia and Statos saw the successful staging of the first ‘Sarawak-Malaysia My Second Home (S-MM2H) Webinar’ last week.
The event attracted registrations from 285 potential investors and retirees from across the region including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.
Statos deputy chief executive officer Putrie Rozana explained that she believed their advertising message really struck a chord with the target market as people everywhere were spending more time at home, making it the perfect time to review their lifestyle choices.
Statos said in a statement the event was promoted throughout Southeast Asia with a social media campaign and through Tourism Malaysia’s regional offices reaching out to their database contacts.
“Malaysia is currently ranked 7th in the World’s Best Places to retire by International Living and there are five very important elements that contributed to that ranking; language, security, low cost of living, tropical climate and the friendly people,” said Tourism Malaysia senior director Manoharan Periasami in the welcoming address.
The Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture (MTAC) Sarawak is responsible for administering the S-MM2H visa programme under which more than 1,300 long stay visas have been granted to families and retirees in the last 14 years.
To date, citizens from the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Singapore make up the top five source markets for Sarawak.
MTAC permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, who spoke at the event, explained that Sarawak was currently the only state in Malaysia still accepting applications for the S-MM2H program.
“And to speed up the approval process, we have formed a new ‘one-stop-panel’ made up of multiple agencies to fast-track approvals within 90 days,” said Hii.
Sam Lion, a Singaporean who originally spent two years in Kuching on a working visa, explained to the audience that his family struggled when they returned to Singapore as they missed the relaxed pace of life in Sarawak and kept finding excuses to return.
They were accepted into the S-MM2H program in 2016 and have been moving between their homes in Singapore and Kuching ever since.
Sarawak’s comparatively low cost of living, education and health care costs were a major draw card for them, Mr Lion explained,
“In Sarawak, RM600,000 can secure a spacious home or apartment whereas in Singapore it costs that much for a three room HDB flat,” said Lion.
Regal International Group chairman Dato Dominic Su, who represented the Sarawak Housing and Property Developers Association (Sheda), pointed out Sheda members can be found throughout the state and they were able to assist buyers find the right home.
“Buyers should make sure they also tell their chosen agents what kind of lifestyle they are seeking in order to get the best possible advice on location and property types within their price range,” said Su.
Statos said there was a great deal of interest and many questions about the variety of affordable properties available for buyers looking to purchase or rent a second home.
The event is available to view in full by logging on to Statos SG via YouTube.
To make the application process faster and easier, MTAC have recently appointed 10 registered agents based in Sarawak and these agents can submit applications and act as sponsors on behalf of overseas applicants.
Statos will continue to provide a marketing platform for the S-MM2H program as part of their tourism marketing strategy as it benefits both the tourism sector through expenditure revenue and attracts residential investment.