KUCHING: Sarawakians especially the tourism players must be prepared to host a huge influx of tourists in line with the Visit Sarawak 2014 campaign.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said his ministry together with its Federal counterpart and the campaign’s official media Cats FM were working together to aggressively promote the state and its tourism attractions not only to foreign markets but also to those in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
“We have been noted (by visitors) for our hospitality. So we want to share it with our guests who would be coming next year and perhaps, in years to come. It is also symbolic because it still coincides with the 50th anniversary of Sarawak independence in Malaysia.
“We have the whole of 2014 to showcase our attractions. Therefore I urge everybody particularly the tourism players to take this opportunity to introduce our attractions, culture and harmony. Showcase your smiles,” he said during the Visit Sarawak Year 2014 media campaign launch at Plaza Merdeka here on Saturday.
Johari said several airlines would be taking part in the campaign by preparing special packages including attractive air fares for those wanting to come to the state.
In addition, local transport company BusAsia would also help by putting up images that depicted various attractions in the state on their buses.
“As these buses travel to Pontianak (Indonesia), Brunei and Sabah, the people there would be able to see the pictures and in turn, would be drawn to visit Sarawak,” he said.
Johari said Sarawak could be in the forefront of the country’s tourism industry by 2020 as the state would set up more attractions such as the proposed legacy trails within the heart of Kuching, a proposed theme park resort in Samariang as well as improved packages offered by national parks.
He also revealed that as of last month, the state received four million visitors who contributed to about RM8.6mil to the tourism industry.
“We estimate that by the end of this year we would receive up to 4.2 million tourists, about half of them would be from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah,” said Johari.
Meanwhile, Cats FM executive director Datin Hanifah Taib Alsree said the station initiated several programmes to promote the state to the local communities.
“They include the introduction of www.sarawakadventure.com which acts as a one-stop portal, packed with information and attractive travel packages available in the state, and Sarawak Ambassador Programme — a marketing approach that allows every Sarawakian to play a part in promoting Sarawak to the rest of the world,” she said.