Thursday, June 8

Kuching expected to generate RM16 mln as gateway, hub for Umrah


Bernama file photo shows umrah pilgrims.

KUCHING (Nov 21): Kuching is set to emerge as a gateway and hub for Umrah with the state government allocating RM11 million for the initiative next year, said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Premier said this is expected to generate an estimated RM16 million in economic benefits in terms of local tours and tourism receipts.

“Efforts are being made to increase flight connectivity. International connectivity with Singapore and Brunei has been re-established, while active negotiations are being pursued with the Indonesian authorities to resume direct flights between Kuching and Pontianak before the end of the year,” he said when tabling the 2023 Sarawak Budget in the august House today.

Abang Johari said the Sarawak government is embarking on establishing its own boutique airline to serve point to point destinations and bring in more visitors to the state.

He said the state government hopes to be given an Air Service License (ASL) that allows the new airline to conduct scheduled passenger services.

He also announced an allocation of RM87 million next year for various tourism-related projects.

They are transformation of Brooke Dockyard into Maritime Museum; Santubong Archaeological Park and Wallace Centre; construction of jetty and other facilities at Santubong for Kuching Wetland National Park; Sadong Jaya Mangrove Tourism; exhibition content development for Fort Hose in Marudi, Fort Lily in Betong, Fort Emma in Kanowit, and Fort Brooke in Julau; conservation and upgrading of Fort Sylvia, Kapit; rejuvenation of Kuching Waterfront; Tourist Support Centre for Lundu and Sematan; upgrading of tourism facilities at Melasak Waterfall, Lawas; and Heritage Gallery and Resource Centre at Long Terawan.

Abang Johari said the state government will also set aside RM35 million to continue supporting the organisation of significant events and festivals such as Spartan Race, Rainforest World Music Festival, Borneo Jazz, Borneo Cultural Festival, Borneo Musical Festival, Sarawak International Dragon Boat Race, Sarawak Regatta, as well as International Xiang Qi Competition and Conference.

“We will continue to market Sarawak globally with an allocation of RM12.5 million under Business Events Sarawak in 2023 to fund international business events,” he added.

He announced an allocation of RM500,000 to start the construction of the Sarawak Handicraft Centre here, costing RM65 million.

He said the Sarawak government will also allocate RM1.5 million to the Sarawak Craft Council to enhance marketing and promotion of the state’s handicraft products.

To ensure the tourism industry gets back on its feet, Abang Johari also announced another allocation of RM32 million to the Sarawak Tourism Board for operations, tourism marketing and promotion.