Sarawak targets 4 million tourist arrivals next year

Desmond Davidson

Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Abdul Karim Hamzah says the state is in a good position to hit its target of four million tourist arrivals next year. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 28, 2023.

SARAWAK has targeted four million tourist arrivals next year, state Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Abdul Karim Hamzah said.

He said he was optimistic the state would hit the goal as this year’s tourist arrivals showed an “encouraging trend” and Sarawak’s received the Wanderlust award, which he said “cemented the state’s position as a top-of-mind destination in the global market”.

He was referring to the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards during the World Travel Market in London earlier this month, where Sarawak was named among the top 10 most desirable regions to visit.

He told the state assembly today if the state hits the target, the projected revenue for next year from tourism is RM9.76 billion.

He said post-Covid-19, the state’s tourism industry is expected to grow exponentially in line with “signs of positive growth in the global tourism scenario”.

Sarawak, he said, expects visitors’ arrival to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2025.

Karim said his ministry projected a conservative three million tourist arrivals this year – the first year Covid-19 travel restrictions were fully lifted – but as of October, the target was surpassed as 3.18 million visitors were registered – an increase of 131.34% compared with the same period in 2022.

To draw tourists, Karim said the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) would maintain its presence in its focus markets.

“It is crucial to achieve the objective of conversion and growth via participation in domestic and international trade and consumer fairs and product update roadshows,” he said when winding up his ministry’s debate.

He said from January to November, STB provided more than RM82,885 for 331 applications received from local travel agents to bring in 2,877 travel agents from Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, India, Denmark, Canada, Norway, China, the Philippines, Myanmar, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Argentina and the local market.

On the state’s promotional efforts at the World Travel Market in London, Karim said Sarawak’s participating industry partners generated RM13.7 million in sales – an increase of 128.44%, or RM6 million, from last year.

He said the Rainforest World Music Festival from June 23 to 25 generated a social media reach of 30.2 million, with total impressions at 82 million via online channels and a total public relations value of RM8.7 million via mainstream media.

Karim said as Sarawak explores new ventures, especially with the acquisition of rural air service provider MASwings, “development of tourism attractions expected to be complete by then and the willing participation of the private sector in the form of Petros in this industry”, he was confident “tourism shall flourish and become a main driver of Sarawak’s gross domestic product growth to sustain its high-income status”.

He said with 2026 announced as Visit Malaysia Year, with the country targeting 26.1 million tourists and tourism spending of RM97.6 billion, the time is ripe for Sarawak to engage more with the private sector to up business investments and tourism ventures.

Sarawak, he said, would be in an advantageous position to accommodate the influx of tourists with funding from the federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to improve the state’s travel facilities.

“The completion of ‘infostructures’ will ensure full internet coverage, and road infrastructure in the form of the 1,200km Pan Borneo Highway, will provide new opportunities for tourists to explore Sarawak seamlessly,” he said. – November 28, 2023.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.