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Borneo, Firefly, Kuching, Sarawak, Sarawak Tourism

Kuching-Melaka direct flights in 2012

Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Melaka

I HAVE to admit that when I first read that a direct Kuching-Melaka flight would be introduced next year, I wasn’t all that excited.

I have been to Melaka a few times — twice it was for work and I was stuck at some resort somewhere for most of the duration without the chance to really explore the city or the historical sites that we all know. This is probably why I don’t have the greatest memories of the city and honestly, pardon my ignorance, I didn’t even know they have an airport. I always assumed that you had to drive from KL.

Upon some reading and research, I realised the error of my ways. The new Melaka International Airport can take up to 1.5 million passengers annually. And it is an international terminal because it has something called Wings Air, which flies to Pekan Baru, Indonesia three times a week.

There is also something called Melaka Air, which the Melaka State government will run with Firefly. This will fly from Melaka to Penang and Kota Baru by the end of this year. Apparently a direct Kuching-Melaka flight would only take about an hour non-stop. That’s much quicker than flying to KL.

Now what piqued my interest even more is that last year, Melaka received 10.4 million tourists — 20 per cent of whom were foreigners. That means over two million tourists who visited Melaka in 2010 were from overseas. The majority of them were from Taiwan, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand.

Up to last September, Melaka has already recorded 8.4 million tourists and the historical city expects this to reach 11 million by the year’s end.

Now Sarawak has seen a 16.7 per cent increase in the number of visitor arrivals for the first nine months of this year. However, the total figure was still just 2,723,964 — 1,678,129 (61.5 per cent) foreigners and 1,045,835 (38.5 per cent) from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

This is when it becomes very clear that leveraging on Melaka’s significantly higher number of visitors is actually a wise move. If we could tap into even just their half of their over two million foreign visitors last year, we would definitely see a significant increase in tourist arrivals.

Travel industry operators should definitely take note and start to work with their Peninsular Malaysia counterparts on packages that factor in travelling from Kuching to Melaka.

Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage city. Kuching is working on trying to gain the same status. As we all should know, Mulu National Park is already a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Tourism Minister Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg also pointed out that Laksama Cheng Ho visited both Melaka and Sarawak, so there’s even a historical connection.

I am sure we have talented people in the travel industry who can craft something out of these connections for tourists – both international and domestic.

So how about taking a direct flight to Melaka then?

The reports from The Borneo Post:

Sarawak welcomes Kuching-Melaka flight

By Lim How Pim

KUCHING: The state government has welcomed the introduction of the Kuching-Melaka flight announced by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam on Friday.

Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said it was a good move to connectSarawakand Melaka because of the two states’ historical links.

“Chinese explorer Cheng Ho landed in Melaka and then came toSarawakso the connection between Melaka andSarawakis there.

“In fact, we had planned a Kuching-Melaka direct flight all this while but back then the airport in Melaka was too small. It is now time to work with Melaka Air to see further connectivity,” he told reporters after launching the Ducati Multistrada Borneo Experience 2011 yesterday.

Abang Johari said his ministry would send officers to Melaka for feasibility studies on the new route and added that the plan should materialise soon.

“We will look into the direct flight connecting Kuching and Melaka because it is a complementary effort toSarawak.

“We try to have packages as it is noted that a lot of Chinese tourists go to Melaka for its historical background,” he said.

He hoped that with enhanced air connectivity, more tourists would come toSarawak.

Mohd Ali had said there could be as many as three flights a week for the route and that it would be in the interest of both states.

Kuching-Melaka direct flight early next year

By Simon Ingka Crown

KUCHING: A direct flight connecting Kuching and Melaka may commence as early as next month or early next year.

Melaka Chief Minister Dato Sri Mohd Ali Rustam when announcing this yesterday said he was keen to see the flight become a reality, possibly three times a week.

“I am looking forward to see the Sarawak and Melaka state governments collaborate on the direct flight to Melaka in the best interest of both states,” he told a press conference.

Mohd Ali is in the state with the Melaka Foundation (YM) delegation and its board of directors to witness a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Sarawak Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA/Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd) and YM yesterday.

LCDA was represented by Senior Minister and Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing and two Assistant Ministers, Datuk Gramong Juna and Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz.

Also present was Senior Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh who is also mnister of local government and community development, and second finance minister.

Mohd Ali said the route could boost tourism in both states.

“Melaka so far receives a total of 10.4 million tourists in 2010 with 20 per cent of them from overseas: Taiwan, Japan,China, Hong Kong, German, Switzerland and New Zealand.”

He said as of September this year, a total of 8.4 million tourists had visited the historical city, and the number is expected to reach 11 million by yearend. He said the proposed Kuching-Melaka flight could be shortened to one hour, compared to the one-and-a-half hour Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route.

“The flight is shorter than that to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Hence this could be an alternative route.”

At the moment, Melaka is chartering Firefly and Melaka Air flights to Pekan Baru and Medan City on the island of Sumatera in Indonesia. The flight connection had lured many tourists from the neighbouring country to the city.

“Sumatera is a big island and at least 10 per cent of the population are from high income families who choose Melaka as a holiday destination every year,” he said.

Mohd Ali said the Melaka state government was planning to construct a larger theme park to lure tourists.

“We are launching a wildlife park this afternoon (yesterday) and Hang Tuah Village theme park which portrays the era of the Melaka Sultanate.”

The state government would build the largest silat arena next to Hang Tuah theme park. Mohd Ali said the Melaka government would continue to cooperate with the Sarawak government to promote their tourism to the world, especially eco-tourism.

“Sarawak has a lot to offer the world – fantastic natural scenery and many others including the famous Rainforest World Music Festival. Mohd Ali said this was the first time the two governments were working together. I hope this will not be the last but open the way to many more joint ventures between the two states.”

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