KUCHING, Nov 30 — State Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said his ministry is working closely with the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and the state Ministry of Transport to ensure flight frequencies to the state are gradually increased to pre- pandemic levels.
He said the Malaysia Aviation Commission has approved 587 flights into Sarawak a week, but only 408 flights are currently in operation by the airlines.
“Of the total, international and domestic flight frequencies are 35 and 373 respectively,” Karim said in his winding up speech on matters concerning his ministry that were raised during the debate on the state Budget 2023 at the State Assembly here today.
He said the number of visitors arriving into Sarawak increased by 1,378,017 from January to October this year compared to the same corresponding period in 2021.
“We are confident that Sarawak will receive an estimated 1.8 million visitors by the end of the year, surpassing our target of 1.2 million visitors for 2022,” he said.
He said based on performance and trends over the past few months, his ministry aims to achieve three million visitor arrivals in 2023 and generate RM7.25 billion tourism receipts.
He added while international tourism slowly bounces back, domestic tourism will continue to drive the recovery of the state’s tourism industry.
Karim also told the State Assembly that the Sarawak Tourism Board had signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the Kuching Umrah Gateway initiative on October 6.
He said this initiative will provide direct flights from Kuching to Jeddah and Medina in Saudi Arabia commencing in the first quarter of 2023.
“We project more than 200,000 visitor arrivals within six years through KUG,” he said, adding that the KUG visitors can enjoy direct flights to Jeddah or Medina, while feeder flights will be from Pontianak, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Samarinda, Ujung Padang, Jakarta in Indonesia and Mindanao, the Philippines to support the main line operations of the umrah flight carriers.
He said through this arrangement, travellers can fly from each respective location and stopover in Kuching for a pre or post tours before they fly direct to Jeddah or Medina, or on their journey home.