Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state government is looking into the possibility of making Kuching an umrah hub. He said if this thing gets materialized, then those from Kalimantan might consider flying from Kuching to Umrag for their pilgrimage adding that the state government is also working hard on improving Sarawak’s connectivity.
Abdul Karim said after the launch ceremony of Sarawak’s Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) 2018 that “We are looking into Kuching as an Umrah hub. If Kuching becomes an Umrah hub, then those from Kalimantan who want to go for Umrah might fly from Kuching because as it is, the Umrah packages done in Malaysia are cheaper than those in Indonesia. We have to admit, our biggest stumbling block is connectivity and that is an area that we are really working on now. Whether it is connectivity from West Malaysia or other regions in Malaysia or even from the ASEAN region.
Abdul Karim added “The population of the ASEAN region is about 600 million, so if we can tap into that it would be good. But all this is in the process of negotiation, but hopefully, we can announce new connectivity soon,”.
He also gave a confirmation that the state government was in the final legs of discussion with Chinese airlines in the process of working out direct flights from Shenzhen to Kuching.
“We are more or less in the final stages of discussion, but we will name the airline later when we have signed the agreement. But it should be there soon, maybe next year,”.
Meanwhile, he opined that the TSA would be a useful and timely resource in the state’s government plans to position Sarawak as a preferred tourist destination, especially since they were embarking on the 3rd Tourism Master Plan (2020-2035). The TSA also marks Sarawak as the first pioneer state in Malaysia to have its own regional TSA, a matter which Abdul Karim expressed was “an honor”.
“Thus, Sarawak will continue to work with the Malaysia Department of Statistics to ensure regular updates on our TSA. With regular updates, both the state government and tourism industry players will be able to benefit from this useful and quality TSA for our strategic planning and formulation to accurately boost the state tourism and businesses,” he added.
Also present at the launching ceremony were Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Malaysia Department of Statistics Chief Statistician Dato Sri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin and Sarawak Department of Statistics acting director Dayang Rozana Abang Hassan.
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