Sim Kiang Chiok

KUCHING: Although tourist arrival from China in Sarawak is not high, the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak has indirect effect on the local tourism industry.

Sim Kiang Chiok

Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching branch chairman Sim Kiang Chiok stated that last year, Sarawak has only 40,000 China nationals visiting Sarawak out of the total arrival of 4.66 million visitors.

“This means visitors from China are less than one percent of the tourist arrivals in Sarawak. However, the Covid-19 has also reduced the indirect arrivals from other countries as most other travellers postpone or cancel their travels during this time.

“This indirect effect will have much impact on the tourism industry,” he said in a statement yesterday.

On development, Sim stated that the decline in tourist arrivals would also affect the housing market. Locals will delay buying new houses, repayment to banks will be slowed especially by those in service industries such restaurants, travel, accommodation. etc.

On the construction industry, he noted that there were not many China nationals who went entered the state as contractors and/or workers.

“The construction industry in the state relied more on workers from Indonesia. Unless the virus has affected that country, I don’t foresee much problem. Maybe imported machinery from China will be affected due to the long closure of the factories there,” he continued.

He also predicted that the price of fuel in Sarawak might drop due to slow demand from China. There are also direct effects on our exports such as timber, durian, bird’s nests, etc.

Sim further said that it was very important for the Malaysian government have an economic stimulus programme for all sectors as the virus had both direct and consequential effects.

“If the virus is not contained and controlled and it spreads to our local population, then the economic scenarios will be very bad for us. We can see that the state government is putting all the right checks and controls to stop the spread,” he said.