Ting (seated third right) and others showing the state calendar of events for next year.

SIBU: The government is embarking on the third Tourism Master Plan (2020-2035) to position Sarawak as a preferred tourist destination.

Speaking at the second Sarawak Tourism Committee meeting for 2019 yesterday, Tourism, Arts and Culture Assistant Minister Datuk Sebastian Ting said the state regional Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) will be a useful and timely resource for a comprehensive master plan. 

Sarawak is the first state in the country to have the TSA — a popular internationally recognised method for measuring tourism’s contribution to the country.

The ministry together with Department of Statistics Malaysia have launched the TSA on Dec 10, 2019.

Sarawak will continue to work with the department to ensure regular update on the TSA so that the state government and tourism industry players will be able to benefit from the TSA for strategic planning and formulations to boost the state tourism sector and businesses. 

Ting said to augur well towards the Visit Sarawak Campaign (VSC) and Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2020, Sarawak will host the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Destination Marketing Forum 2020 — abbreviated as PDMF 2020 — in Kuching from November 25 to 27, 2020 to further highlight and showcase Sarawak’s rich ethnic and cultural heritage on the global tourism map. 

“In order to boost tourist arrivals by Singaporeans into Sarawak, my ministry through Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) in collaboration with Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office Singapore (Statos) have launched weekend packages and Sarawak Food Trail on December 3,” he said.

Ting (seated third right) and others showing the state calendar of events for next year.

He highlighted that from January to November this year, tourist arrivals by Singaporeans into Sarawak was recorded at 41,168 — an increase of 3.52 per cent compared to the same corresponding period in 2018. 

He also emphasised that in 2020, the state government is planning to set up a Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office in Brunei and Pontianak as well to further tap potentials in trades and tourism.

“My ministry have continued to collaborate with government agencies, tourism industry players and local communities to line up many significant tourism events in 2020,” he said.

The state calendar of events for next year features a total of 95 events — Kuching (31), Samarahan (3), Serian (4), Sri Aman (4), Betong (1), Sarikei (3), Sibu (9), Mukah (12), Bintulu (9), Kapit (3), Miri (9) and Limbang (7). 

The significant events and festivals for 2020 include the Rainforest World Music Festival, Borneo Jazz Festival, Tidal Bore Festival, Sarawak International Dragon Boat Race, Borneo International Kite Festival, Borneo Cultural Festival and Sarawak Regatta.

On a related note, the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee said tourism generated a direct contribution to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) of RM11 billion, accounting for 7.5 per cent of the state’s GDP in 2018.

“As of November 2019, Sarawak received 4.17 million visitors, which is an increase of 5.22 per cent as compared to the same time period in 2018.  “The top five countries these visitors are from are Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and China,” he said