Upgrade tourism services

Abang Johari and Abdul Karim (left) arriving for the 8th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards. Photo: Nadim Bokhari

KUCHING: The private sector must be proactive in providing quality services in the tourism industry, urged Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“The state government through its agencies will continue to attract people to come to Sarawak,” he said.

He expressed his hope that local partners would upgrade their services, assuring that the state government would provide the necessary infrastructure.

He was officiating at the 8th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here on Saturday.

Abang Johari cited Mulu as an example, “At Mulu, the window of time for planes to land is only four hours — they can only land from 11am to no later than 2.30 or 3pm because of the bats.”

“Due to this narrow window, a road was being constructed from Miri to Long Terawan, where a 40-minute boat ride would take visitors to Mulu.

“In other words, if there are no planes, they can use the road to go back to Miri. Visitors can easily make their way to Mulu and enjoy it,” he pointed out.

Abang Johari and Abdul Karim (left) arriving for the 8th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards. Photo: Nadim Bokhari

The chief minister said that under the 12th Malaysia Plan, Sarawak will emphasise on the development of the tourism industry through a number of new approaches.

According to him, this would include the upgrading of national parks especially those often frequented by tourists.

“We have set up a wildlife agency under the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) which is tasked to develop infrastructure in our national parks.

“The assets belong to the government, but SFC will work with the private sector to operate the national parks,” he said.

He added that the old State Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex would be developed into a performing arts centre.

“We also want to bring more tourists to destinations here, and this will be done via negotiations with operators — either domestic or international airline.”

Abang Johari said that another aspect was medical tourism.

“Professionals, especially specialist doctors, are keen to work and have their hospitals in Kuching — our infrastructure is competitive, particularly our electricity tariff.”

He said that this would make room for the development of private hospitals here which would attract foreign visitors as well.

Also present were Abang Johari’s wife Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang; Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture cum Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and his wife Datin Zuraini Abdul Jabbar; Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting; Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan and Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.