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Visit Sarawak Year 2003

MATTA gives full support

By Andy Chua

Visit Sarawak Year 2003 is poised to become one of the major highlights in the country's tourism calendar next year.

The recent road show in Semenanjung Malaysia from October 22 to November 2 had helped to convey the message that visitors from that part of the country will have an exciting time when in the state next year.

Tribune interviewed several people from the various states in Semenanjung Malaysia who are involved in the tourism industry and from their feedbacks, they were equally excited in bringing tourists from their respective states to Sarawak next year.

FIRST EXPERIENCE … A foreign tourist trying out the
Melanau's Alu-Alu dance.

President of MATTA (Malaysia Tours and Travel Agents) Tunku Dato Seri Iskandar bin Tunku Abdullah said MATTA gave its full support to Sarawak in its promotion of its tourism industry especially with next year's programme, the Sarawak Tourism Year 2003.

"I understand that your state has arranged interesting packages to lure tourists to the state next year and all our chapters in all the states in the country except Perlis (no chapter) will give our full support to bring as many visitors from here to Sarawak. We will also help to promote Sarawak in whatever ways we can," he added.

In helping to promote tourism, he said their support would also help to promote national integration as there are still a lot of people from Semenanjung who have yet to step into Sarawak's soil. With flight accessibility to Sarawak no longer a problem, he was optimistic that the Sarawak Tourism Year would be a great success.

The roadshow, he reckoned was an excellent move at the right time as all states in the country also need to promote their domestic tourism or else outsiders would be skeptical of what each has to offer to tourists.

PROVIDERS OF MUSIC … From left, ARQ, Cottrell and Wilbert.

Sarawak, he said, is well positioned to attract people from the Semenanjung including Sabah, Singapore and Asian region and even elsewhere in the world as it has strong products. The 40 foreign delegates at the recent World Travel Mart Conference, he said, also gave a very encouraging feedback about Sarawak as they were very impressed with the state tourism potential.

Doreen Wong, Chairman of MATTA Penang Chapter said she would strongly encourage its 135 members' agents to take up the special packages offered by Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia for Sarawak.

Not only that the chapter would also try to get corporate bodies in the island who used to give travel incentives to their workers to offer them Sarawak this time. She was confident that few thousands Penangnites would fly over to Sarawak next year as she believes the culture, adventure and nature of Sarawak are totally something new for them and that it is worth the money to explore and discover the state.

A DIFFERENCE … A Nigerian enjoying himself on stage.

The Manager of Lang Pelangi Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd, Langkawi Hasbullah bin Ibrahim when met on an express boat journey from Perlis to his hometown, said there are a lot of people from this duty-free island who wants to visit Sarawak next year. According to him, the people there want something as a change as far as domestic tourism is concern. And Sarawak is an ideal package besides Sabah.

"My clients here have travelled extensively to the various states in the Peninsula and Sarawak is by far the best getaway when you talk of domestic tourism,"he added. Hasbullah said due to the strong request from his clients and using Sarawak as his business strategy, he has already faxed a letter to the Sarawak Tourism Board for vital information on the state tourism matters.

His request for such information had somehow been answered when he stumbled upon the troupe from the Sarawak Cultural Village and the officials from Mediaxis, the promoter of the Sarawak Tourism Year 2003 roadshow. The express boat incidentally was made by a shipbuilder in Sibu while the juragan of that boat at that moment was also from Sibu, thus, highlighting the good name of Sarawak.

Hasbullah brought more good news for Sarawak when he said his foreign clients have been requesting him to include Sarawak as their holiday destination in the country.

SWEET FOR YOU … A crew member, Shima giving out
pepper sweets to passengers on an express boat to Langkawi.

"After having enough of the beautiful beaches here (Langkawi) my foreign clients want something more exciting. It is certainly not the busy city life of Kuala Lumpur. A homestay at an Iban longhouse is what they look forward to. They want a quiet and serene environment where the singing of birds could be heard. And this could only be found at your longhouses," he added.

An elderly Finnish couple, Pekka and Riitta Karkkainen who were among the few foreign tourists to Langkawi said it was the first time that they got to know of Sarawak from the roadshow.

"Before that we have hardly heard of Sarawak. We have heard of Borneo and know of Kalimantan," said Pekka.

And they could be forgiven as they had by-pass Sarawak after going to Kalimantan on their sailing boat.

The two retirees had been at sea for the past two years on their yacht and had visited 40 countries along the way. In their pursuit, they had covered 25,000 nautical miles since May 1999.

Pekka was a boat pilot by profession while his wife was a nurse in their country. The duo expressed their interest to visit Sarawak during their next sea trip. By the time this article is published they would be on their way home.

A professional towerthon runner, Stefan Minfen from Germany when met at the KLCC who was among the foreign tourists not wanting to miss the excitement of the roadshow.

He was impressed with what Sarawak has to offer to visitors. He was fascinated with the colourful costumes worn by the dancers from the Sarawak Cultural Village while on stage and of course splendid cultural dances. Stefan was in Kuala Lumpur for the Twin Tower towerthon which covered a total of 2,056 steps in running up the world tallest building. He told the writer that he was surprised after flipping through the brochures on '40 Reasons Why You Should Visit Sarawak'.

The brochure, he said, contained a brief yet interesting facets about Sarawak especially its places of interest. As for him, he intends to visit Sarawak only in 2004. That he said was because "I have a tight schedule next year. I will be involve in competitions in Bangkok, Philippines, America, England and France."

Source: Sarawak Tribune

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