KUCHING, Nov 15 (Bernama) — The Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has stepped up marketing activities to attract more tourists to the state following the federal introduction of the tourism tax, said Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
He said the tourism tax introduced on Sept 1 this year had made Sarawak tourist spots less competitive to emerging destinations in the region.
Foreign tourists are charged a tourism tax of RM10 per night per room. Malaysian tourists and permanent residents are exempted from the tax.
Abdul Karim, while winding up debate pertaining to the ministry in the state legislative assembly, said STB was also capitalising on the digital marketing platform to draw more tourists.
The digital promotion has been well-received by viewers, he said, adding that the board’s major websites have commanded 648,697 followers and social media platforms such as Facebook have seen an increase of three per cent to 137,500 in the number of fans compared to the previous year.
“Other promotion initiatives are consumer-directed promotions, trade-directed promotions, media management programmes, partners collaboration and air accessibility,” he said.
He also said that the Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) activities for 2018 would be championed by sales and marketing, backed by industry development activities.
“The long-term aim is to create a sustainable business events sector, and the short-term aim is to continue to secure more business events for Sarawak,” he said.
Abdul Karim said SCB would continue to attempt to win more bids, especially substantial bids, and added that each substantial bid won contributed to an investment for Sarawak; extending its yield beyond tourism.
“SCB looks forward to a higher conversion of leads, which will be enhanced through digital technologies such as web-based bids and multimedia bids,” he said, adding that marketing will continue to position Sarawak as a leading business events destination in the world.
Abdul Karim said Sarawak had been able to position itself as one of the second-tier destinations for business events in the region.
He said that from January to October this year, SCB brought in 73 business events to Sarawak, with the participation of close to 25,000 delegates with 73,000 delegate days, and this translated to about RM81.7 million in direct-delegate expenditure in Sarawak.
Earlier in his speech, Abdul Karim informed the house that Sarawak received 3.72 million visitors between January and September this year, an increase of 9.81 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2016.
“This has generated estimated tourism receipts of RM6.9 billion and, based on the past trend of average arrivals for the month of October to December, the ministry is anticipating five million visitor arrivals in Sarawak in 2017, an increase of 7.3 per cent compared to 4.66 million in 2016,” he said.
Abdul Karim also informed the house that the Sarawak tourism sector was expected to generate tourism receipts of RM8.98 billion (6.9 per cent increase), contributing 8.2 per cent to the state GDP in 2017.
“For 2018, my ministry is targeting 5.25 million visitor arrivals and estimated tourism receipts of RM9.82 million,” he said.