Sarawak tourism players optimistic of bouncing back

KUCHING: Tourism industry players in Sarawak are optimistic of bouncing back to the level before the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to contain the spread of the COVID-19.

Sara Hospitality managing director Mark Furguson said the bleak situation faced by the industry players over the past four months seemed to have recovered based on the increased occupancy in several hotels under the company’s management.

“What we see now is the excitement of locals to get out of the city and spend weekend holidays, one of the hotels under our management recorded an occupancy rate of 44 per cent. This is a good sign,” he told Bernama here today.

He said the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak which hit the country followed by the MCO period was a critical time for the management to ensure the business operations of their hotels stayed afloat.

“We have planned, to improve the standard operating procedure (SOP) in registering our visitors and looking at the demand now, I am optimistic that our (operations) will be back to normal,” he added.

Sharing a similar sentiment was Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) general manager Jane Lian Labang who said the living museum was beginning to record impressive visitors’ arrival from locals and outside Sarawak.

“We have received tourists from Kedah, Johor, Kuala Lumpur, and Sabah as well as people from Kuching, and this shows the domestic tourism is recovering,” she told Bernama.

According to her, SCV was fully prepared to resume its operation in compliance with the stipulated SOP in order to receive local and foreign visitors.

She added that social media were used to promote and give discounts to visitors and create special programmes focusing on tourism experience in collaboration with several media agencies.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state government and the tourism industry players are also offering incentives such as lower entrance fee to tourist destinations.

He said the move was to attract more visitors especially locals to the tourist spots to boost the local economy.

“The decline is not long term. I believe that the lower rate would remain at least until the end of this year and we will be re-evaluated when the situation returns normal,” he added.

Based on the development during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), the tourism industry has started to show improvement and he is optimistic that the sector would be back to normal at a faster rate than expected.

“We are evaluating our programmes until the end of 2020 and we want to have some entertainment events as a strategy to attract more tourists,” he explained.