S'wak expects 1.1 million visitors this year


KUCHING: Sarawak is forecasting a total visitor arrival of 1.1 million with estimated tourism receipts of RM2.64bil this year.

State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (pic) said domestic travel was expected to slowly recover in the second half of the year following the availability of Covid-19 vaccination.

"However, this estimated target will depend very much on the Covid-19 global situation," he said when launching a free electric bus service for Kuching on Tuesday (March 2).

Karim said Sarawak's tourism industry had been badly hit by the pandemic with total losses estimated at RM8.69bil.

He said visitor arrivals dropped by 74% last year to 1.2 million from 4.6 million in 2019, while tourism receipts plunged by 75% to RM2.88bil.

To assist the industry in the short term, he said the ministry had implemented measures such as discounted travel incentives through the Sia Sitok campaign to promote domestic travel within the state, designating hotels and quarantine centres, incentives to encourage homegrown business events, continuous capacity building and research to prepare for the return of tourists.

"I believe we can still revive our tourism industry by boosting domestic tourism activities with Sia Sitok tour packages and enhancing the confidence of the people to travel domestically while the borders are still closed.

"As of today, the Sia Sitok campaign has generated more than RM1.57mil in sales from 941 tour packages," he said.

Karim added that the ministry and Sarawak Tourism Board would continue the campaign with the launch of 60 new packages this month.

"The wider range of domestic tour packages will create more interest among locals to travel widely in our state while benefiting the tour industry as a whole," he said.

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