Monday, April 16, 2007

Flight problems cause tourism revenue losses to Sarawak

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 cost to the state is estimated to be a few million ringgit.

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

STB Chief Executive Officer Gracie Geikie said on Monday that this news was very disheartening because the Federal and state government had spent huge amounts of time and money promoting Mulu all over the world.

“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, retiming and rescheduling for the flights to Mulu. Because of this, the tour organisers there simply exclude Mulu from their list of tour destinations to Malaysia and Sarawak.

“STB has contacted several renowned tour operators in Europe to try to convince them to put Mulu back on their list of tour packages. We hope they can do this in time for their winter packages,” she said when interviewed.

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

Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) handles flights to Mulu.

This airline had been handling the rural air services in Sabah and Sarawak since August 1 last year.

Geikie yesterday said the STB hails 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 their tour packages. Tour agents overseas can also secure advanced confirmed seats to Mulu via MAS. Hopefully, the tourism sector in Mulu can recover when FireFly takes over,” she said.

FAX had recently said it wants to hand over the rural air service to FireFly so that it can concentrate on the long-haul sectors.

Source : STAR
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