Sunday, September 19

Domestic tourism set to reopen in Sarawak before end-2021, says Ting

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One of Sarawak’s tourist attractions – the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

KUCHING (July 29): It is anticipated that domestic tourism would reopen in Sarawak before the end of this year, and for international travel to be allowed next year.

State Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting said Sarawak would also consider opening up ‘green bubble travel’ – namely allowing vaccinated travellers from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, as well as those from Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia and other countries, to come to the state.

He also said the ministry was preparing the requirements and guidelines to open the tourism sector once Sarawak had achieved herd immunity against Covid-19 by this August and entered Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

He stated that tourism would be one of the first economic sectors to be reopened, where business events and festival would restart, subject to the standard operating procedures (SOP) approved by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).

“Most of the events will be held in a hybrid mode to further help the creative industry and promote travel in Sarawak,” said Ting at a press conference in Bangunan Baitulmakmur II in Petra Jaya yesterday, held after he chaired the first Sarawak Tourism Coordination Committee meeting for this year.

He said post-Covid-19, the state government would seek to facilitate tourism by introducing Covid-19 travel passport, digital travel pass, digital landing apps, tourist information and GPS-tracking – all of which were already in the final stage of planning.

In addition, he said his ministry and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) would continue to assist industry players via Online Ecosystem Fund, a catalytic programme set to expand state tourism digital footprint.

He said the Online Ecosystem Fund 2.0 had been extended to registered and licensed hotels, homestays, handicraft operators and entrepreneurs, and also Sarawak Association of Tourism Attractions (Sata) members.

“As at July 27 this year, a total of 29 applications had been approved for the Online Ecosystem Fund 2.0.”

In 2020, Ting said a total of 45 registered and licensed Sarawak inbound tour operators had taken up the Online Ecosystem Fund, with a total amount of RM225,000 for website development, booking engine, online advertising and content production.

In addition, he said a total of 21 participants for Kuching intake in October last year had graduated from the Regional Specific Tourist Guide (RSTG) course to further boost tourism and enhance the efficiency of service delivery.

“My ministry has also collaborated with Yayasan Sarawak in providing financial assistance, in terms of loans, to those interested to pursue this RSTG course.”

A total of 16 participants out of the 21 participants for the Kuching intake had taken up the Yayasan Sarawak loans amounting to RM96,000.

Ting added that those with RSTG licence could now apply to become national park guides.

“They just need to attend the five-day National Park Product Specific Course by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC). The course will cover the southern, central and northern regions of national parks.”

Ting said the fee of RM1,500 per region would be partially sponsored by his ministry.

“For the five-day National Park Product Specific Course by SFC, a total of 50 participants will take up the course, which will take off in October 2021,” said Ting.