KUCHING: Sarawak aspires to be a leading destination for eco-tourism and business events, driven by empowered communities to conserve heritage, culture and biodiversity.
Towards this end the third Sarawak Tourism Masterplan 2021-2035 will serve as the roadmap to transform Sarawak into a preferred tourism destination through sustainable approaches, including providing economic opportunities for the rural communities.
Finance and New Economy Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said this when tabling the Supply (2023) Bill at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting on Today (Nov 21)
“In 2023, the state government will aggressively promote tourism through various initiatives and the through Sarawak Tourism Board it will make Kuching a gateway and hub for Umrah,” he said.
In 2023, a sum of RM11 million will be set aside as financial incentives and support for this initiative and this is expected to generate an estimated RM16 million economic benefits in terms of local tours and tourism receipts.
“Efforts are being made to increase flight connectivity. International connectivity with Singapore and Brunei has been re-established, while active negotiations are being pursued with the Indonesian authorities to resume direct flights between Kuching and Pontianak before the end of the year.
“Given that air connectivity is vital for tourism growth, the state government is embarking on establishing its own boutique airline to serve point to point destinations and bring in more visitors to Sarawak.
“We hope to be given an Air Service License (ASL) that will allow the new airline to conduct scheduled passenger services,” he added.
Meanwhile, he added that state government will continue to develop tourism attractions and facilities as well as preserve existing tourism spots to further enhance Sarawak’s visibility and branding worldwide.
“Towards this end, a sum of RM87 million will be allocated in 2023 to continue with the implementation of tourism-related projects such as
Transformation of Brooke Dockyard into Maritime Museum; Santubong Archeological Park and Wallace Centre; Construction of Jetty and other facilities at Santubong for Kuching Wetland National Park; Sadong Jaya Mangrove Tourism; Exhibition Content Development for Fort Hose, Marudi; Fort Lily, Betong; Fort Emma, Kanowit; and Fort Brooke, Julau; Conservation and Upgrading of Fort Sylvia, Kapit; Rejuvenation of Kuching Waterfront; Tourists Support Centre for Lundu and Sematan; Upgrading of Tourism Facilities at Melasak Waterfall, Lawas, and Heritage Gallery and Resource Centre at Long Terawan,” he added.
According to him, the state government will also continue to support the organisation of significant events and festivals such as Spartan Race, Rainforest World Music Festivals, Borneo Jazz, Borneo Cultural Festivals, Borneo Musical Festivals, Sarawak International Dragon Boat Race, Sarawak Regatta, International Xiang Qi Competition and Conferences and many more.
An allocation of RM35 million will be provided in 2023 to implement these programmes.
“We will continue to market Sarawak globally with an allocation of RM12.5 million under Business Events Sarawak in 2023 to fund international business events.
Abang Johari also said that, in ensuring that local producers are highly skilled in the production and management of handicrafts products, the state will build a Sarawak Handicraft Centre, costing RM65 million in Kuching.
The centre will provide space to the industry to promote and sell handicraft products. In 2023, a sum of RM500,000 will be allocated to kick start the project.
The state government will also allocate a sum of RM1.5 million to the Sarawak Craft Councilto enhance marketing and promotion of Sarawak’s handicraft products.
“The state government has identified five major areas to be further developed as tourism investment zones namely Sarawak Delta Geopark, Santubong Peninsula, Hydro-lake Development Areas, Lundu-Sematan and Miri-Sibuti-Niah,” he added.
These dedicated zones will become a catalyst to spur the growth of the tourism sector and attract private sector investments in resorts, wellness, and new tourism products.
To ensure tourism industry gets back on its feet, and to support tourism related auxiliary sectors, we will allocate RM32 million in 2023 to Sarawak Tourism Board for its operation, tourism marketing and promotion, he added.