KUCHING: Sarawak government is embarking on a tourism master plan study to position Sarawak as the preferred tourist destination through its own Tourism Satellite Account (TSA).
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said there would be various branding exercises and development for both long and short-term strategies from 2020 to 2035.
According to United Nations World Tourism Organisation, a satellite account is a statistical instrument to measure economic sectors that are not defined as industries on national accounts. Tourism, for instance, is an amalgamation of industries including transportation and accommodation.
The TSA is designed to measure such goods and services according to international standards, concepts and classifications.
Considering the importance of comprehensive, data-oriented tourism assessment and effective policy formulation, the ministry has been working with the Statistics Department to develop a TSA for Sarawak.
The complete systematic framework of Sarawak tourism is expected to be launched next month.
“We are proud to be the first pioneer state in Malaysia to have its TSA,” Abdul Karim said in his winding-up speech at the state legislative assembly here today.
As of October, Sarawak received 3.76 million visitors arrival with an increase of 4.59 per cent as compared to the same period in 2018. The top five sources of visitors were Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and China.
In conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 campaign, Sarawak aimed to achieve five million visitor arrivals with RM8.18 billion tourism receipts.
Abdul Karim said healthcare tourism provided lucrative opportunities to the local private hospitals and medical practitioners, apart from benefiting the tourism and hospitality industry.
“As of October, Sarawak received 34,100 health visitors generating a total of RM47.60 million receipts, where most of the visitors came from Indonesia, followed by China, Philippines and India.
“My ministry has collaborated with hospitals, relevant authorities and Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council to boost the health tourism industry.
“(At the same time) we hope to bring in more healthcare travellers with the launching of Malaysia Year of Healthcare Travel 2020.”
Abdul Karim said national parks in the state remained as among the preferred destinations for both domestic and foreign visitors.
As of September 2019, the national parks have recorded a total of 369,630 visitors where 110,634 were foreigners and another 258,996 visitors were domestic visitors.
He said Bako National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Matang Wildlife Centre, Niah National Park and Santubong National Park had recorded the highest number of visitors due to the localities’ diverse biodiversity, beautiful and unique landscape and accessibility among others.
“The upgrading of the visitors’ facilities at Samajaya Nature Reserve was completed in September and the centre is now open to the public.
“The redevelopment project for Fairy Cave Nature Reserve and Wind Cave Nature Reserve is ongoing and is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2020.”
Abdul Karim added that the first electric bus (e-Bus) service in Sarawak, which began its trial operation in March, had been providing convenient transportation alternatives for both visitors and locals.
The service covers 26 bus stops in a loop between the Old Court House and ICOM Square.
“Thus, the State Cabinet has approved another four more units of e-Buses to cover an extended route, covering 54 stops on a loop between New State Assembly Building and Semenggoh Wildlife Centre next year.”