Abd Karim: Visitor arrivals in the first half of 2023 show tourism in Sarawak is back on track

(From second left) Sherrina, Lau, Chieng, Sebastian, Ting, Abdul Karim, and Zuraini are seen in a group photo. – Photo by Conny Banji

SIBU (July 24): Sarawak’s tourism industry is back on track based on visitor arrivals recorded from January to June this year, said Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts said that the number of arrivals was almost the same during the same period in 2018 and 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Statistics available on the ministry’s website show that Sarawak received a total of 1.957 million tourists from January to June this year.

In 2018 and 2019, the state received a total of 4.430 million and 4.662 million tourists respectively.

“We don’t have a problem with tourist arrivals today because as far as I can see we are back to the pre-Covid-19 days.

“From the number of tourists who arrived from January to June this year, we can see that the number is almost the same as the numbers we see in 2018 and 2019.

“Basically, we are already back on track. I have no complaints about the number of visitors who came because it depends on our expectations,” he said when officiating at the closing of the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) 2023 here last night.

Abdul Karim said the state should exceed its target of three million tourist arrivals for this year.

He said that currently in Kuching, there are so many events that it is often difficult for visitors to get a hotel room.

“In the coming week, we will have a national-level International Museum Day from July 31 to August 6, which will involve all the states in the country. We will have thousands of participants in Kuching for the event.

“Kuching will play host to the Asean International Film Festival from Aug 2 to 4, where local and international artists from Southeast Asia will gather. South Korean star Rain will also arrive in Kuching in the first week of August and is expected to bring his friends and fans to Kuching.

“These events will continue until the end of the year where we will have the Dragon Boat Race and Sarawak Regatta. We hope that many of those who come down to Kuching will also go to other places in Sarawak to extend their holidays,” he said.

He noted that Sibu can be promoted for eco-tourism with the Sibu-Kapit road linking the town to the hinterlands of the state.

“We see a lot of potential that can be done especially in Sibu and other nearby towns that need Sibu as a gateway.

“Once the Sibu-Kapit road is completed, we know that there will be a new tourism product, which will involve Sibu as well as the hinterlands.

“If you see currently the type of promotion we are starting, many refer to eco-tourism; that is the in thing now,” he pointed out.

Abdul Karim said visitors are increasingly less interested in shopping destinations for their trips.

“Usually, when someone goes on vacation now, it usually has something to do with eco-tourism and that’s where I see this link between Sibu and the hinterlands of the state.

“This is the product we are starting with. We are trying to promote it from that angle. Hopefully with this kind of promotion, there will be more flights and more tourists coming down to Sibu,” he added.

Among those present were Abdul Karim’s wife, Datin Sri Zuraini Abdul Jabbar; Deputy Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts I (Tourism) Dato Sebastian Ting; Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government II Michael Tiang; Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting; Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts permanent secretary Datu Sherrina Hussaini; Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Alice Lau; and Bukit Assek assemblyman Joseph Chieng. — Photo by Conny Banji

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