KUCHING: With an increasing number of tourists coming into Sarawak, tour operators and agencies are busier than ever.
Borneo Adventures tour guide Lemon Praddy Ales revealed that the responses have been encouraging since international borders have opened up.
Describing Sarawak as popular even though it is a second-tier destination, he said clients who had booked for their trips prior to the COVID-19 pandemic did not cancel bookings.
“Our clients did not cancel their bookings with us, so now that the borders have opened, they are traveling to Sarawak.
“In fact, we do not have enough manpower especially with transportations to accommodate all of our clients.
“We are grateful that the situation is back to normal or else we would be out of a job for more than two years,” he told New Sarawak Tribune when met at Bako National Park on Saturday (Oct 1).
Lemon pointed out that Sarawak has many good quality tourism products which tourists from Europe, United States of America and Australia are very keen to experience and explore.
He said clients’ itinerary is usually tailored made based on the number of days they are staying in Sarawak.
“They like nature and culture, but they also want to experience adventures. Most of the time they come for cultural experience which they would get from staying in Kuching itself.
“Being a second-tier destination, this means clients would usually come to Sarawak after visiting places in Peninsular Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
“Nonetheless, I think our destination is still very popular and we would often get positive feedbacks,” he said.
A tour guide since 1981, Lemon has been with Borneo Adventures since 2001.
When asked how the travel agency coped during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the staff are very grateful to have an employer who is very compassionate.
Even though there were no tourists coming in which halted their job, the travel agency did not retrench any of its staff.
“My employer has been very compassionate about retaining staff and maintaining minimum pay for all of us. This is indeed a blessing in disguise for us to have an employer like this.
“So, most of us were doing our own thing during the COVID-19 pandemic like farming,” he said.
Despite some tourists choosing to plan and coordinate their own itinerary, Lemon said tour and travel agencies still remain relevant as it provides convenience.
He said there are no competitions or challenges with the existence of numerous tour and travel agencies as each has its own unique products and qualities.
“Not every tourist is adventurous enough to book their own hotels or coordinate their own activities, so why not make use of the services offered by tour and travel agencies.
“One of the advantages of engaging tour and travel agencies is that everything is ready and when you arrive, your tour guide is already there for you.
“I believe that every tour and travel agencies know that the most important essence is for their clients to feel safe, have the confidence and enjoy themselves,” he said.