Sharzede Salleh Askor

KUCHING: As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sarawak has experienced a drastic 68 percent drop in tourism receipts in the period from January to September this year compared to the same period last year.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor disclosed that the value of tourism receipts from January to September this year was RM2.78 billion, compared to RM8.67 billion for the same period last year.

“Our target for this year is RM3.56 billion,” she said, adding that the total value of tourism receipts for the whole of last year was RM11.57 billion.

“As of September, we had 1.15 million visitors to Sarawak, but that is a drop of about 65.67 percent compared to the period of January to September last year,” she said in an exclusive interview at the STB office here today.

She said that Sarawak’s target now is to achieve 1.4 million visitors this year, however, she said this may not be attainable due to the latest restrictions and surge in Covid-19 cases nationwide.

“The campaign that we were hoping to bring in for this last drive will be affected, though we hope for the best,” she said.

Nevertheless, Sharzede emphasised that the people’s safety was of utmost importance.

According to her, Sarawak had come very close to its visitor target of five million last year, having achieved 4.66 million visitors.

“However, with the pandemic this year, we had to revise and be realistic. We actually revised our strategy and target three times,” she said.

Despite all this, she believed that the tourism industry would be able to sustain and survive these uncertainties as long as tourism industry players worked together and changed their mindset to do things differently.

“If we put our efforts together and trust that this is for the betterment of the industry, I believe that in the long-term, we will be stronger,” said Sharzede.