Tuesday, April 17, 2007

European Tour Agents dropping Mulu because of flight hitches

World heritage site Mulu National Park – Sarawak tourism’s crown jewel – has lost six months’ worth of tourism business from overseas especially from Europe.

The state is estimated to have lost a few million ringgit in potential earnings.

Latest information gathered by the Sarawak Tourism Board showed that Mulu National Park has been excluded from packages offered by tour agents throughout Europe for the past six months because of difficulties in securing confirmed seats.

The board's chief executive officer, Gracie Geikie, said yesterday that this was a setback because the Federal Government and the state had invested so much time and money promoting Mulu worldwide.

“The business from long-haul markets like Europe has come to a virtual standstill because no packages involving Mulu are on offer now in European countries. This has been the case for the past six months.

“There are too many cancellations, delays, re-timing and rescheduling of flights to Mulu. Because of this, the tour organisers there have dropped Mulu from their list of destinations to Malaysia and Sarawak.

“The board is trying to convince renowned tour operators in Europe to put Mulu back on their list. We hope they can do this in time for their winter packages,” she said when interviewed.

Foreign tourists still visit Mulu but they are arriving individually or arranging flights to Mulu only when they are in Sarawak.

Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) flies to Mulu. The airline had been handling rural air service in Sabah and Sarawak since August last year.

Geikie yesterday said the board welcomed the intention of FAX to hand over all its rural air service routes to FireFly, the low-cost subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines.

“If FireFly takes over, then MAS can once again offer Mulu as part of a tour package. Tour agents overseas can also secure advanced confirmed seats to Mulu via MAS. Hopefully, the tourism sector in Mulu will recover when FireFly takes over,” she added.

FAX had recently said it wanted to hand over the rural air service to FireFly so that it could focus on the long-haul markets.

Source : STAR
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