KUCHING, May 25 — Sarawak's tourism sector is now doing well, thanks largely to the support of domestic travellers, Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah indicated today.
The state tourism, creative industry and performing arts minister is also upbeat that Sarawak will hit its target of receiving 1.2 million visitors and generating RM3.2 billion tourism receipts this year, following a huge drop over the last two years due to the border closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said visitor arrivals increased by 574.35 per cent to 310,064 for the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2021.
He said domestic travellers will continue to drive Sarawak's tourism industry for the time being as countries around the world slowly roll back their Covid-19 border regulations.
Malaysia allowed fully-vaccinated travellers without requiring then to undergo mandatory quarantine from April 1 as part of its move towards Covid-19 endemicity.
“With the lifting of travel restrictions, the tourism, arts and culture industry are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Karim said in his winding-up speech in the state legislative assembly this morning.
He said Sarawak saw a drop of 74 per cent in visitor arrivals, from 4.66 million in 2019 to 1.2 million in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Karim said state tourism receipts dropped 75 per cent to just RM 2.88 billion in 2020 compared to 2019.
“In 2021, visitor arrivals plunged 80 per cent to 235,245 compared to the same corresponding period in 2020,” he said, adding that the tourism receipt had declined 81 per cent as compared to 2020 to RM536.17 million in 2021.
Karim said his ministry will be working to build a more resilient tourism industry as the sector is among the important economic drivers under the Sarawak Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030.
He said he is confident that by the year 2030, Sarawak will be a leading destination for eco-tourism and business events in Asean, driven by its empowered communities to conserve heritage, culture and biodiversity and to promote investment and development through responsible actions.