KUCHING: More tourists visited Sarawak in January this year compared to last year, an encouraging sign for the Visit Sarawak Campaign (VSC) launched at the start of the year.
Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) CEO Sharzede Salleh Askor said the state recorded 361,334 visitors arrivals last month compared to 326,347 last January.
Of the total, 214,335 were domestic tourists, up from 154,717 in January last year.
"We are very happy to note that domestic tourists from Peninsular Malaysia increased by 38% compared to last year and overall the numbers increased by 10.7%.
"This is very encouraging compared to last year.
"We feel that our efforts of being aggressive and intensifying our marketing has shown some results.
"It's too early to say, but we hope this is going to be a positive trajectory for us," she said after the launch of a VSC car sticker campaign here on Wednesday (Feb 20).
Sharzede said the state's target of five million tourists this year could be achieved with aggressive promotion in domestic and regional markets.
"Yes, it's a high target. But I believe that if we put ourselves out there frequently and aggressively, the local market will come in.
"And when we went overseas ever since we launched VSC, there has been a positive response about us and our new products. There's excitement out there, and to me, that's a very positive sign," she said.
Besides domestic tourists, Sharzede said STB was targetting visitors from Australia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia.
"We just came back from Sydney and Melbourne, where we had a very good response and packages are being looked into.
"We are working closely with the (Indonesian) consulate now, doing promotions and organising Indonesians to come. These are low-hanging fruits that we must capture and get them to come here as frequently as possible.
"Other than that, Europe is our long-haul and high-yield target. We're going to Berlin on March 3 as Europe is a good market for us," she said.
State Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who flagged off the car sticker campaign, said it was part of efforts to promote Sarawak.
"Today (Feb 20), we are giving out stickers to taxis in Kuching. We will also distribute them to taxis in Sibu, Miri and Bintulu," he said.
QR codes on the stickers can be scanned for a link to the STB website for information on attractions and things to do.