Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Sarawak Tourism Minister for Arts and Culture, defines 2020 as an unfortunate year of the state's tourism industry, but is optimistic that the situation will get better this year.
However, he said that for the first two months of this year there were even less visitors in Sarawak than in the same months of the previous year, the number of domestic visitors only arriving at 7,369 in February, compared to 199,893 in the same month of last year, whereas in February 2021 there were just 1 600 visitors in foreign countries, compared to 111,275 visitors last year in the same month.
“Visitor arrivals dropped 74 per cent from 4,662,419 in 2019 to 1,199,872 in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Compared to 2019, the tourism receipts in 2020 declined 75 per cent to just RM2.88 billion, with an estimated loss of RM8.69 billion.
“So it was a huge drop,” he said at a press conference after chairing the Sarawak Tourism Steering Committee meeting.
In spite of the Covid 19 pandemic, his ministry said that it had to begin building confidence between industry players, starting with local tourism, interstate, regional and gradually global tourism when things became normal.
Abdul Karim said that with the help and active involvement of various tourism industry players and stakeholders the ministry has been implementing short-term recovery measures to recover tourism, art and culture industry.
These measures include building confidence in travel through stringent SOPs endorsed by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), discounts as travel incentive through the Sia Sitok Campaign to promote Visitor Incentive Packages (VIP) to promote inter-state travel.
The Online Ecosystem Fund was also launched to help hotels designate them as quarantine centers, encourage them to develop home-grown business meetings, to develop ongoing capacity development, virtual market sites or travel mart.
“The Sia Sitok Sarawak Tour Package 1.0 has indeed generated good response. Therefore, we have extended the traveling period to March 31, 2021, and as of today, it has generated more than RM1,569,026 in sales for 941 tour packages and 5,668 pax.
“My ministry and the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) will continue the Sia Sitok in its version 2.0 where 60 packages will be for the period of March 31 to November 2021. A wider range of domestic tour packages will be created to target locals to travel in our state while benefiting the tourism industry as a whole,” he added.
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