Monday, April 02, 2007

Poor Air links in Sarawak Impeding Tourism

Persistent air-linkage woes between the different towns in Sarawak have impeded trade particularly tourism.

The Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has received feedback from concerned tourism players in the state that they cannot rely on air links anymore to package their tourism programmes for towns like Sibu and Bintulu because flights were unreliable and unpredictable.

STB chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said there was feedback that flights were unpredictable and some were cancelled without notice.

“Tourist associations and tour agencies in places like Sibu and Bintulu are finding it difficult to plan and sell their tour packages because of this persistent air-link problems.

“We (STB) have been informed that many are resorting to using land as an alternative means of travel between the different divisions in the state where flight-woes have affected air travel.

“However, in tourism, using land transportation to ferry large numbers of tourists between different towns is not practical in the long term. Towns in Sarawak are hundreds of kilometres apart. The road conditions between these places are often bad,” she said when interviewed recently.

Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) had since August last year, taken over the rural air service in Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia Airlines.

Non-trunk air routes in Sarawak like those between Bintulu, Sibu, Kapit, Limbang, Lawas, Mukah and interior outposts like Bario and Ba’Kelalan are now handled exclusively by FAX.

Cities like Kuching and Miri are served by MAS, AirAsia and FAX, and travellers there have more flight options.

Geikie said the STB would lobby for FireFly (MAS’s low-cost carrier) to expand to Sarawak.

“We appeal to FireFly to fill gaps in the route within Sarawak that FAX cannot handle. STB will lobby the state to pursue this option,” she said.

To a question, she said Sarawak was big enough for MAS, AirAsia, FAX and FireFly to share.

Source : STAR
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