Sarawak tourism to take on Singapore, Hong Kong markets
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
According to data from the Statistics Department and Jobs Malaysia there are about 15,000 to 20,000 unemployed graduates in Sarawak.
Noting that the tourism sector was important in stimulating Sarawak’s economic development and growth, Minister of Tourism Sarawak Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg added that the service sectors could provide jobs among graduates whereby they have to be pro active, have good command in English and creative.
“As a result, the government is now studying a special task force to look into the tourism sector to formulate a strategic work to improve tourism in Sarawak,” he said during his speech at the launching ceremony of the 8th edition of the Sarawak Matta Fair.
Organised by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Sarawak Chapter), the fair was held at Boulevard Shopping Mall from March 11th till 13th.
“The 8th Sarawak Matta Fair is a platform for the travel industry to promote the variety of their travel package,” said organising chairman Melissa Bulan Liau during the opening ceremony.
According to Melissa, the fair also aims to foster and enhance the fellowship among the tourism industry, to stir the momentum of growth in the hospitality and tourism industry in Malaysia and assist the government’s mission of ‘Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Dekat Je’ campaign.
As of last year, Melissa added that Matta together with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) launched the ‘Kayo Kayo Sarawak’, a travel package to attract tourist to the state and it was re-branded to the ‘Sarawak Dekat Je’ campaign in October in line with Tourism Malaysia.
“Last year in October, we engaged with our partner in Johor Bahru and managed to sell 600 packages,” said Melissa.
Anticipating good results from the campaign, they have also been engaging with their partner in Penang.
“We believe that this campaign, we will have good result for the Sarawak tourism,” said Melissa.
According to Abang Johari, as of last year about 4.8 million tourists visited Sarawak, falling short of its expected 5 million target.
“But 2016, I think we can achieve better than 4.8 million with government intervention,” said Abang Johari.
As of now, the tourism ministry and officers of Sarawak are working hard to penetrate two important hubs – Singapore and Hong Kong – in their efforts to promote Sarawak to neighboring countries.
“As you know, Hong Kong is the southern getaway of northern China particularly to the cities and the cities that we want to concentrate on in southern China,” he said.
“And that is why I am pleased to announce that as of next month we will start a direct flight from Kuching to Hong Kong through Hong Kong Airlines,” said Abang Johari in positioning Sarawak to penetrate the eastern European market.
As for Singapore, Abang Johari said that a month-long Sarawak week campaign will be held where five buses with Sarawak logo will be driven around Singapore to promote Sarawak.
“We can work with Singapore Tourism Board and at the same time the airlines as partner to promote Sarawak,” said Abang Johari.
Aside from promoting travel related products such as hotels, flights and homestay, Matta Fair also held a lucky draw in those three days with many attractive prizes to be won. Among the prizes were complimentary stays at hotels, buffet meals, river cruise, flight tickets and shopping vouchers.
The fair featured 26 exhibitors with 15 travel agencies from the hotels, banking and government agencies.
The next fair will be held at Bintang Megamall, Miri, the first Matta Fair in Miri, targeting Bruneian and Miri audience.