Sarawak recorded a 3% drop in tourist arrivals to 2.98 million last year due mainly to a shortfall of 90,000 tourists from the long-haul European markets.
Sarawak Tourism Board’s chief executrive officer Gracie Geikie said there were slightly more than two million international visitors last year.
The state received 3.02 million visitors in 2005, and has been recording a steady growth for several years.
She said the big drop in the number of European tourists was due to the domestic rationalisation exercise whereby Malaysia Airlines ceased its rural air services, with Fly Asian Xpress (FAB) becoming the new operator last August.
“We are still monitoring the air services,” added Geikie at the board’s meet the tourism industry partners session at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here on Tuesday.
The rationalisation exercise had resulted in most European tour wholesalers suspending the sales of Sarawak packages, especially those to Mulu National Park in northern Sarawak.
Three months into Visit Malaysia 2007, Geikie said the feebacks from the tourism players was that tourism activities were slow.
“However, we expect the influx of tourists to go up from this month," she added.
Several major tourism events, like the Miri International Jazz Festival, World Rainforest Music Festival and Borneo Cultural Festival were coming up, she added.
Geikie urged tourism players to apply for loans from SMEs Bank if they needed funding to buy new coaches, build small lodges or rennovate hotels. Saying that there were still some RM40mil available from the bank for tourism related projects, she added two companies in Miri had applied for loans.
She said a new resort - Borneo Rainforest Lodge - had started operation in Miri.
Source : STAR
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