State ministry to discuss on easing entry restrictions


KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry will deliberate the matter of easing the requirements for entering Sarawak soon.

Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said however, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) would have the final say.

Noting that despite police permits being no longer needed for interstate travel, he said there were still other restrictions for entering Sarawak.

“This (easing entry requirement) is our priority because there are many Sarawakians in West Malaysia and they have not come back to Sarawak for more than two years.

“Maybe we will make space for Sarawakians to return without any restrictions. We will deliberate on this matter as soon as possible.”

He said this after officiating at the launch of the Jom Ke Sarawak campaign at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching on Friday (Oct 15).

Abdul Karim said he hoped Sarawak would allow the entry of West Malaysians without requiring permits next year.

“But, SDMC has the final say. I’m sure SDMC will look at this from various angles.”

He added that there had been a lot of complaints on social media regarding the entry restrictions.

Earlier, at the launch of the campaign, Abdul Karim said the pandemic had given the ministry, agencies and tourism industry players the opportunity to re-strategise Sarawak’s future tourism objectives and to recalibrate its focus on sustainable tourism.

“This includes increasing accessibility and connectivity to Sarawak and developing our rich natural environment, festival and events, museums, cultural products and providing more training to the tourism workforce and our local communities.”

He said that in terms of administering the recovery plan for the tourism industry, the ministry would ensure the continuity of executing strategic action plans with responsible tourism initiatives that prioritise empowering communities, environmental protection and economic viability.

“With regards to accessibility and connectivity, my ministry is working very closely with SDMC and the Ministry of Transport Sarawak to increase the flight frequency to Sarawak.

“As of Oct 1, SDMC has decided to gradually increase the incoming flight frequency to Sarawak from 22 flights to 89 flights weekly from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Johor Bahru, Labuan and Singapore going to various destinations, namely Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang. I believe that the number will further increase soon.”

Also present was the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.

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