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Sarawak MATTA Fair Rakes In RM8.9mil, State Eyes RM9.76bil From Incoming Tourist Traffic This Year

KUCHING: Sarawak will breach its tourism revenue to RM9.76 billion this year from RM8.07 billion recorded in 2023.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Sarawak chapter chairman Oscar Choo said the fair this year raked in RM8.9 million, up from last year’s RM6 million, signalling a healthy post-Covid recovery in local tourism statistics.

According to Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Sarawak chapter chairman Oscar Choo, this year’s outing earned RM8.9 million, up from last year’s RM6 million, signalling a healthy post-COVID recovery in local tourism statistics.

He said his ministry had projected three million visitor arrivals with RM7.6 billion in revenue in 2023.

However, as of October last year, Sarawak already received 3.18 million visitors.

Late last year, Sarawak Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the target followed the state’s encouraging trend of visitor arrivals in 2023.

“The tourism receipts stood at RM8.07 billion, which contributed about 5.75 per cent to Sarawak’s gross domestic product (GDP),” he told the state assembly.

Abdul Karim also pointed out that the post-COVID-19 tourism industry in Sarawak is expected to grow exponentially, corresponding with signs of positive growth in the global tourism scenario.

He said Sarawak expected visitor arrivals to recover to the pre-pandemic level fully by 2025.

According to him, Sarawak is charting its course into new ventures, especially with the acquisition of MASWing and the development of tourism attractions that are expected to be completed by then.

He said that tourism will flourish and become one of the main drivers of Sarawak’s GDP growth, sustaining its high-income status.

“Over the years, the East Malaysian states have become a popular destination among foreigners who are smitten with the state’s rave attractions such as nature explorations, outdoor adventures at national parks and eco-tourism at nature reserves,” Abdul Karim said.

Deputy Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Snowdan Lawan, who officiated the opening of the fair, quoted recent data from the World Bank and said international tourists nowadays prefer nature tourism.

“The ministry will be focusing on the concept of culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals (CANFF),” he said.

He also said Sarawak must align itself to cater to tourists’ interests and provide adequate gateways to facilitate their movement throughout the state.

In aligning with tourists’ aim to visit Sarawak, he said the state needs to have an abundance of gateways to facilitate the movement of tourists throughout the state.

Snowdan said the state must provide enough flights into Sarawak and that is why airline businesses are vital as they are the conduits that connect those from international grounds to Borneo.

Taking a cue from Snowdon, one enterprising tour operator has plans to encourage West Malaysian locals to seek the many holiday destinations in Sarawak based on the CANFF concept.

Khaimal Borneo managing director Mohammad Fikri Zainol Majid said West Malaysian tourists can enjoy Sarawak’s many splendoured holiday outposts under the ‘Cuti-Cuti Malaysia’ itinerary.

Speaking to The Exchange Asia, Khaimal Borneo managing director Mohammad Fikri Zainol Majid said locals from West Malaysia largely visit Sarawak for official business engagements but rarely for a ‘good time-spent holiday’ in the Borneo state.

“We perceive this as a niche area in local tourism where West Malaysian tourists can enjoy Sarawak’s many splendoured holiday outposts under the ‘Cuti-Cuti Malaysia’ itinerary,” he said.

Sarawak MATTA Fair, a three-day fair that began on Friday, concluded yesterday with 71 booths operating at The Hills here.

The fair was packed with locals and foreigners seeking the best bargains for holiday destinations in the state, which also goes by the moniker ‘The Land Of The Head Hunters’.

Among the 71 booths at the fair were those offering off-shore holidays to Europe, China, Seoul, Japan, South Asia, and the popular regional destinations in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

Airline operators were also present to attract potential travellers with exciting flight fares from West Malaysia and the surrounding Southeast Asian cities to the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, and MASwings, designated official airlines for the fair, offered discounted and promotional fares from popular Asian capitals to Sarawak and Sabah.

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