State to woo East Asian, Asean tourists

04 Jun 2012  545 | World Travel News

Sarawak is eyeing tourists from East Asia, namely Japan, Korea, India and Hong Kong, said Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He added this was in addition to their plan to entice visitors from Asean countries.

Abang Johari, however, stressed that for starters air connectivity needed to be strengthened.

“Yes, that is our objective (attracting tourists from Asean countries). But, we want to go beyond to attract those from East Asia such as Japan, Korea, India and Hong Kong.

“Let us settle with MASwings first,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday when sending off Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at Sibu Airport. Abang Johari, who is also Housing Minister, said when air connectivity issues were resolved they could then focus on making Miri and Kuching as the gateway for tourists into the state.

“This will eventually go to Sibu, in the middle.”

Last month, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan reportedly said the state would have to focus on Asian markets to boost arrival figures because of the economic slump in Europe and political instability in the Middle East.

Rashid was quoted to have said then that the pulling out of Firefly, a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) subsidiary, from the state also had an impact on the tourism industry’s growth.

He said they would be looking at MASwings (another subsidiary of MAS) to help them achieve the four million tourists target.