KUCHING: Sarawak is confident of achieving five million tourist arrivals this year after doing better than expected last year.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state received 4.86 million visitors in 2014, exceeding the target of 4.5 million and increasing by 11% from 2013.
He said three million were foreign arrivals, up by 5% from the previous year, while domestic arrivals comprised 1.83 million visitors, an increase of 9%.
Among the notable foreign arrivals were those from India and Indonesia.
“Apparently we had an increase in visitors from India with about 33,000. Indonesia was also promising as we had about 550,000 visitors because of medical tourism and education.
“There are a lot of Indonesian students here so their parents come and visit them,” he told reporters after chairing a state tourism steering and coordination committee meeting here yesterday.
Abang Johari said visitors from the Asean region made up the bulk of foreign arrivals, with Brunei the highest at 1.95 million visitors, followed by Indonesia, the Philippines (135,861) and Singapore (49,059).
Sarawak also received visitors from China (39,735), Britain (33,854) and Australia (21,039), among other countries, and recorded tourism receipts of about RM10.86bil last year.
With the solid performance last year, Abang Johari said this year’s target was within reach.
“We are working well with agencies like Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Sarawak Tourism Board, Sarawak Economic Development Corporation and the entrepreneurs’ unit in the Chief Minister’s Department. We also have good support from the corporate sector,” he said.
“We expect tourism to be an important driver in the services industry in our economy.”
He also said several new hotels were currently under construction in Kuching, which would provide an additional 2,000-odd rooms upon completion.
“More hotels will be coming up next year so there will be an increase over time,” he added.