KUCHING: Sarawak aims to promote its tourism industry and forge better ties within the Asean region at a digital tourism forum to be held here next week.
Organised by the Asean-China Entrepreneurs Association with the support of the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, the forum on March 8 to 9 will bring together regional policy makers and industry players to boost the growth and visibility of Asean countries as tourism destinations.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said this was part of efforts to showcase Sarawak as a tourist destination to neighbouring Asean countries.
“Five countries – Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand – will send their ambassadors or their representatives to the forum.
“These are fast-growing nations within Asean and as their purchasing power increases, they will travel more outside their countries.
“So we want to promote Sarawak as a destination for them to travel to. At the same time, we also invite them to tell us about their countries. It will be a joint friendly effort to promote our respective countries,” he told reporters yesterday.
Abdul Karim said local tourism players would be able to discuss collaboration opportunities and foster better relations with their Asean counterparts at the forum.
He hoped this would lead to better networking and coordination in promoting Asean as a regional destination to tourists.
“We are trying to build up our tourism industry and we want to have a good arrangement with our Asean neighbours.
“Apart from marketing ourselves to other countries like China, which is one of the biggest tourism markets, we must also know our neighbours.
“I believe that if we are able to have this kind of network within Asean, we can be seen as one region by tourists,” he said.
Abdul Karim also said Sarawak received 4.56 million visitor arrivals last year, which generated tourism receipts totalling RM8.59bil.
“On average, one tourist will spend RM2,000 to RM3,000. This money goes into hotels, restaurants, transport and retail, among others,” he said.