KUCHING, June 22 — Sarawak is projecting to receive only two million tourists this year, less than half of last year’s figure, because of the impact of Covid-19, said state Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
He said the target for this year is significantly lower because the coronavirus outbreak forced Sarawak to close its doors to tourists for about three months.
“Our target last year was five million tourists. This year I will be very happy if we have only two million tourists,” he told reporters after a dialogue session with the state tourism industry in Sejingkat here today.
Without providing comparative figures, he said tourist arrivals in Sarawak had dropped 48.9 per cent in the first five months of this year, with losses suffered by the industry estimated at RM3 billion.
He said the industry was now focusing on domestic tourism to set them on the road to recovery.
“We are not expecting Sarawak to receive so many foreign tourists in the next six months,” he said.
He said this was due to the fact that the borders of many countries are still closed, and Sarawak requires visitors to the state to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Abdul Karim said his ministry had set aside RM1 million to introduce a Visitors Incentive Package (VIP) for the benefit of local Sarawak tour companies from July 1 to December 31 this year.
The amount of incentives would depend on the number of tourists who booked through the tour companies and their length of stay in the state, he said. — Bernama