DOMESTIC and foreign tourist arrivals to Sarawak increased by 680% for the first five months of this year compared to the same period last year.
Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the current number was 439,150 compared to 56,270 last year.
“There were only 9,108 foreign tourists from January to May 2021, but this year the figure went up to 43,404.
“This is a jump of 376%,” he said at the media launch of Borneo Tribal Music Festival (BTMF) that will be staged in Sibu for the first time, from Sept 23 to 24.
As for arrivals from peninsular Malaysia and Sabah through flights, Abdul Karim said the number was 47,170 last year compared to 395,746 this year, a jump of 738%.
He revealed that tourist receipts showed an increase too.
“From January to May 2021, it was RM130mil but for the same period this year, it was more than RM1bil.
“So, I believe hotels and restaurants can see that people are coming back.
“That means things are picking up and returning to normal,” he added.
In line with this, Abdul Karim said organising events and programmes would not only benefit industries such as hospitality and aviation, but also drive the local economy.
As such, he encouraged more programmes and events to be organised in Sarawak to attract tourists.
Among those present at the launch were his ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting, Sibu MP Oscar Ling and BTMF director Wilfrid Gan.