KUCHING: The state government is looking to enhance tourism ties with Singapore by promoting tour packages that will benefit both countries.
Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said a discussion was ongoing between his ministry and the Singapore Tourism Board to create tour packages for tourists to visit both the island state and Sarawak in a single trip.
The Senadin assemblyman has visited Singapore to work out the proposal, which included negotiations with Singapore Airlines and SilkAir, a regional airline based in Singapore.
“We are looking to create a tour promotion where tourists can visit Singapore and Sarawak in a single package. Tourists can visit Singapore during the weekdays and fly to Sarawak for the weekend. It can be considered a ‘plus one’ package.
“Sarawak will complement Singapore in the sense that a tourist can visit Singapore for the entertainment and shopping then escape to Sarawak for a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of a city,” Lee said at the dinner programme of the ninth Asia-Pacific Ecotourism Conference here.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president, Datuk Hamzah Rahmat and Sarawak Chapter chairman Chris Kon were present.
Lee said Sarawak saw Singapore as an important tourism hub in the region that could help connect the state with the rest of the world.
He was confident that the Sarawak-Singapore tour package would enhance tourist arrivals for both countries.
In his speech earlier, the assistant minister said Sarawak was blessed with amazing biological diversity, offering lush greenery with abundance of wildlife.
Sarawak has about 711,000ha of protected land area and 230,000ha of territorial waters comprising 36 national parks, 14 nature reserves and five wildlife sanctuaries.
By 2020, the state government is committed to have one million hectares of protected areas.
“We will continue to pursue more international standard operating procedures that are effective and adaptable on the state’s nature and wildlife conservation to ensure sustainability.
“Our nature parks are our tourism assets as such parks are becoming increasingly popular as tourist destinations,” he added.
As more emphasis was placed globally in protecting the environment, the state should capitalise on promoting its ecotourism to nature lovers from all over the world, he suggested.