MASWings Sdn Bhd (MASWings), a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) which is set to take over the Rural Air Services (RAS) on Oct 1, will boost Sarawak's tourism industry to achieve the projected 3.2 million visitors during the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007.
State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said Sarawak recorded 1.3 million tourist arrivals for the first five months, from January to May this year.
He said tourist arrivals in the state was on track although visitors for the long-haul market had plunged, due to poor connectivity since last year.
"However, the domestic tourists make up for the target this year. With MASWings officially taking to the skies and resolving the issues on interlining and connectivity, it would give more confidence to the market, knowing it (MASWings) is a subsidiary of MAS.
"I believe MASWings will put Sarawak back on its map of international travel routes to achieve the 3.2 million visitors this year," he told reporters after the press conference on 4th International Borneo Tourism Conference (BTC) 2007, here today.
MASWings, with four Fokker 50 (F50) and four Twin Otter aircraft, will serve a network of 23 destinations in Sarawak and Sabah as well as the Federal Territory of Labuan.
Wong said MASWings received encouraging response since it opened for bookings through Malaysia Airlines Call Centre 1300-88-3000, as more than 3,000 bookings had been received since Aug 1.
"Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has started an e-blasting through the Internet to our oversea operators (tour and travel agents) to announce about MASWings' interlining," he said.
On the BTC to be held at the Sarawak Tourism Complex from Sept 11 to 13, Wong said the conference would be participated by renowned international speakers specially flown in to present papers related to tourism, including the `father' of ecotourism, Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, who is also the special advisor to World Conservation Union and World Tourism Council.
He said the other tourism `heavyweights' participating are Professor Ross K.Dowling, Mark Exeter, Costas Christ, and Jill Henry.
"This is not a chance to be missed especially by tourism operators, hoteliers, and people who are directly involved in the business of tourism," he said, adding that those interested could contact STB for further information or register directly via the website at www.borneotourism.org.
Wong said a total of 120 delegates comprising industry practitioners, hoteliers, and institutions of higher learning students from Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand had registered so far.
The conference, jointly organized by the Borneo Integrated Service and supported by the STB, aims to develop and market the Borneo regions as a major international tourist destination as well as to popularize and promote tourism related activities and programmes and events showcasing the uniqueness of Borneo as a tourist destination.
Source : Bernama
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