Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah with his wife Datin Zuraini Abdul Jaabar viewing the bemban woven mat. Also seen (left) Chairman of Sarawak Craft Council, Datuk John Sikie Tayai. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: After a nosedive in handicraft sales statewide due to the movement control order (MCO) early this year, the figure is slowly recovering.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said sales plummeted to as low as RM41,000 back in May but recovered to rack up RM1.65m in July.

“From statistics collected by Kraftangan Malaysia, the total sales until July 2020 was only RM8.2m with the lowest sales in May totaling only RM41,000.

“Compared to last year’s sales figures, which was RM32mil, we are expected to see a reduction of RM20m this year. The sales target for 2020 has been revised from RM35m to RM12m.

“The good news is that sales has been picking up from June, with the total sales for July at RM1.65m,” he said when declaring open the Sarawak Craft Council (SCC) office here today.

Abdul Karim said with the new SCC premises, which houses nine handicraft retailers, it would bring in more visitors and customers.

“Arts and culture play an important and integral part of tourism industry development. When visitors visit places like national parks, attend festivals, visit museums, they also want to buy souvenirs to remind them of their visit.”

The Asajaya assemblyman said despite Sarawak having more than 150 retail outlets selling handicrafts, not all the products in these outlets were made in Sarawak.

“Handicraft making is also a way to get local communities to benefit from the tourism industry.

“This is in-line with my ministry’s vision of creating inclusivity, involvement and benefits-sharing in promoting responsible tourism.”