Abdul Karim takes a closer look at the 'Urbin' after the Rainforest World Music Festival 2019 press conference. Also seen are from left Sarawak Tourism Board chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, Lee, Sharzede and Yeo. Photo: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: The Tourism Ministry is confident that Rainforest World Music Festival 2019 (RWMF2019) will be able to attract over 9,000 foreign visitors to the state.

Tourism, Culture, Arts, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said last year the festival had attracted over 22,000 people and about 40 per cent were non-Malaysian.

“This year, we expect an increase in conjunction with our Visit Sarawak Campaign (VSC). Tourists not only get to experience the music festival, but also to explore our culture, nature and food that Sarawak has to offer,” he said in a press conference on RWMF2019 at 11 Ridgeway, Jalan Ong Tiang Swee here yesterday.

He added that RWMF has been internationally recognised as a music event which has put Sarawak on the map where world music enthusiasts and festivalgoers would converge.

“RWMF does have an impact on tourism. As international awareness and promotions continue, I believe that the state will continue to receive more visitors especially those from overseas,” stressed Karim.

Abdul Karim takes a closer look at the ‘Urbin’ after the Rainforest World Music Festival 2019 press conference. Also seen are from left Sarawak Tourism Board chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, Lee, Sharzede and Yeo. Photo: Ramidi Subari

As the festival enters its 22nd year, he said that he was overwhelmed by the responses over the years. The festival in its first year only had 300 people and had increased to over 20,000 people.

“There is bright future for such events. Internationally, we are seeing a rising appreciation for cultural and traditional arts.

“I believe that music events and festivals which are centred on our culture can make Sarawak to get better recognition by others,” said Karim, adding that he looked forward to seeing a major musical or cultural event in the state every month of the year.

Meanwhile, when asked on how the state government would support RWMF2019, Karim said the cashless payment mode Sarawak Pay would be used to make transactions more convenient such as online ticket purchase and at the festival, purchase of food and craft booths.

“We hope this cashless system will encourage more spending among visitors, benefiting our local businesses and entrepreneurs who will be selling their food and crafts work there,” he said.

He added that the application would also be offering up to 15 per cent cashback, so festivalgoers will also benefit from the app.

“So do not miss this opportunity, RWMF is a very lively festival, especially for music lovers from all over the world.”

RWMF2019 will be held from July 12-14 July at Sarawak Cultural Village.

Early bird tickets for RWMF2019 are priced at RM125 for a one-day pass, while RM315 for a three-day pass.

For more details, visit rwmf.net, contact STB at 082-423600, email at stb@sarawaktourism.com, or visit the office at Level 4, Plaza Aurora, Jalan McDougall.

Also present were of Tourism, Arts and Culture Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor.

Meanwhile, Yeo Yu Puay from JL Production, who is also the production manager for RWMF2019 revealed that 39 bands from different countries will be performing this year.

“Something new about this year’s festival is that we will be inviting bands from the different indigenous groups,” she said.

She added that the bands are from eight different countries, and have never performed at the festival.

“With many tribes and one vibe, they will be performing on a special stage called the Indigenous Stage.”

The performing bands are from Nagaland, India, Bhutan, Canary Islands, Mauritius, West Kalimantan, Jamaica, Estonia, and Japan.