More hotels and flights needed for increase in visitors to Sarawak, says state minister

Abdul Karim (centre) launching the Sarawak tourism destination resilience workshop in Kuching on Monday (May 20).

KUCHING: Sarawak needs more hotels and flights to cater for the expected increase in visitor arrivals in the coming years, says Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The state Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister welcomed private sector involvement in building more hotels as the government could not do this alone.

"Three new hotels are coming up in Kuching, so it looks like the government and private sector are sensitive to what is happening.

"When they see tourism thriving, looking at the number of visitors coming here, they (came up with this plan)," he told a press conference after opening the Sarawak tourism destination resilience workshop here on Monday (May 20).

Abdul Karim said while the present number of rooms was sufficient, Sarawak should plan to accommodate more visitors in the next 10 to 30 years.

"We cannot wait until the last minute to start building our hotels. It has to be prepared in phases, not just for Kuching but for all of Sarawak.

"For example, Scoot is starting direct flights from Singapore to Sibu on June 5, and Sibu will be the gateway to Kapit and the interior. So we need hotels coming up in Sibu and Kapit," he said.

Abdul Karim also said Sarawak was working on getting more flights to the state in line with the rising trend of visitor arrivals.

He said Sarawak's planned takeover of MASwings Sdn Bhd would boost these efforts.

"We are going to have our own airline which will not just fly within Sarawak, it's going to be a regional airline.

"Once we launch it, I believe it will move very fast to cater for the kind of travellers we have now," he said.

In his speech earlier, Abdul Karim said Sarawak recorded 1.6 million visitor arrivals from January to April this year, an increase of 25% from 1.3 million in the same period last year.

He said foreign arrivals rose by 41% to 997,451 compared to 705,863 last year.

"Tourism receipts for the same period stood close to RM4.17bil compared to RM3.272bil last year, an increase of 27%," he said.

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