THE State government has suggested joint tourism promotions with Sabah to boost the industry.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg pointed out that: “Sabah has her pristine beaches and seas, while Sarawak has dense rainforests and scenic highlands. By taking advantage of these potential we will be able to give not only both states, but also the Malaysian tourism industry a great boost.”
He said East Malaysian collaboration would signify a marked increase in the size of the target market, adding that “both states are safe destinations and are positioned strategically to attract tourists”.
Datuk Amar Johari has a point actually. I read somewhere that many tourists in European countries like France have never heard of Malaysia. However, mention Borneo and they can easily visualise an exotic nature and culture destination.
The same applies for Australia and New Zealand. This has to do with our historical ties with those nations – their soldiers fought to defend us during World War II.
It also makes sense geographically because Borneo is the third largest island in the world. So people are more likely to have heard of Borneo simply because of its geographic significance.
Culturally, both states are indeed very blessed. We are the most diverse states in the country without doubt. We have a rich heritage of cultures, languages, food etc.
And of course there is that bond that East Malaysians have naturally. I remember my Sabahan friend telling me that Sabahans would always support Sarawak during sports events (unless we are playing Sabah of course) and of course we would support them too (unless we are playing them of course)! During a recent national-level secondary school competition in Malaya, friends told me that the teams from Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan were the most supportive of each other – only natural-bah!
Sabah recorded a 15 per cent increase in tourist arrivals from January to September this year compared to last year. A total of 1,909,430 tourist arrivals was recorded during the period compared to some 1,660,310 arrivals over the same period last year.
Up until October this year, Sarawak recorded 1,843,928 foreign visitors and 1,159,686 domestic visitors.
Promoting Malaysian Borneo – Sarawak and Sabah – as a united package would therefore be a logical step that would benefit both states tremendously.
The report from The Star:
By Russell Ting
KUCHING: The tourism attractions of Sarawak and Sabah combined has great potential in boosting the tourism industry in not just the two states but also in the country.
“Sabah has her pristine beaches and seas, while Sarawak has dense rainforests and scenic highlands.
“By taking advantage of these potential we will be able to give not only both states, but also the Malaysian tourism industry a great boost,” said Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari.
“Collaboration between the two states would signify a marked increase in the size of the target market and at present, both states are safe destinations and are positioned strategically to attract tourists,” he added.
“But first of all, there must be change and transformation, especially in the aviation sector if we are to welcome more visitors and tourists to Sarawak,” he said at a dinner to welcome delegates from Sabah to the 4th Sabah-Sarawak Joint Tourism Co-operation and Collaboration Meeting on board Sarawak River Cruise on Wednesday night.
The meeting was held here yesterday.
Johari said Sarawak and Sabah were popular tourist destinations in the region where they shared many common resources that provided quality cultural, adventure and nature (CAN) tourism – the market niche for both states.
He called for greater efforts by both states to share strategies and also improve the market for the tourism industry.
He said in keeping with Vision 2020, the country was expecting at least 36mil tourists visiting the country every year.
He believed Sarawak could contribute to a majority of that number, “but only if we have the right connectivity in terms of travel and transportation between our state and other parts of Malaysia.”
Also present were Assistant Ministers of Tourism Datuk Gramong Juna and Datuk Talib Zulpilip, permanent secretary of the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry Datuk Michael Emban and Sabah Tourism general manager Datuk Irene Charuruks.
It was the first time for many of the delegates including Michael Emban and Irene to travel along the Sarawak River on board the Sarawak River Cruise.