KUCHING, Sept 15 — Sarawak is well on its way to hit its target of three million tourists this year and will fare even better soon, said Datuk Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister said the state already recorded 2.6 million tourists by last month.

“By September, we will have surpassed the three million target. Basically, we have got back to pre-Covid-19 time and the number of visitors coming to Sarawak has more or less reached the level of pre-pandemic,” he told a press conference after unveiling the What About Kuching (WAK) Festival 2023 calendar of events here today.

Abdul Karim said the number of foreign tourists visiting the state from January to August had also shot up tremendously compared to the same period last year.

He said they were mostly from Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore.

“Just August this year alone, the number of foreigners came in was 168,822 as compared to 78,880 in the same month last year. For domestic travellers, meaning from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, it was 155,351 August this year and 115,132 August last year, an increase of 34.93 per cent,” he said.

He said Sarawak’s tourism receipts had also grown by 71.56 per cent, from last year’s RM476 million to RM818 million this year up to last month.

Between January and August this year, 1,414,443 foreign visitors came to Sarawak compared to last year’s total of only 206,328.

“We received 1,179,593 domestic visitors from January to August this year, and last year was only half of that, which was 691,515,” he added.

“I am very, very happy that our domestic travellers have also increased.”

On the confidence level of tourists from Europe, Australia, and other foreign countries, he said it was growing except for China.

“I was in Beijing last week, and I can see that the Chinese government is not really encouraging the people to go out (travel overseas).

“But give them (Chinese tourists) a little bit of time. Once they start moving out, we will push the numbers up again,” he added. — Borneo Post