SARAWAK’S tourist arrivals plunged to 1.1 million for the first 11 months of the year, compared with 4.1 million in the same period last year, as Covid-19 ravages an industry that contributed 8.72 per cent to the state’s GDP.
The 71.5 per cent drop in tourist arrivals is expected to not just hit the industry hard but also impact the state’s economy, which earned RM11.57 billion from the sector in 2019.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah attributed the sharp drop to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The decline in tourist arrivals between 2019 and 2020 is huge,” he said after officiating at the closing ceremony of ‘Telang Usan District’s Tourism Awareness Programme’ yesterday, Borneo Post reported.
Abdul Karim also said for the month of November this year, Sarawak recorded 13,362 tourist arrivals, which was 95.76 per cent down from 412,939 recorded in November last year.
“We hope for the Covid-19 pandemic to be over soon, as tourism-related industries are facing big problems now including hotels, restaurants and tourist guides,” he added.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s programme was run by Abdul Karim’s ministry in collaboration with Miri Resident’s Office and Telang Usan District Office – with the objective of giving exposure and awareness of involvement and career opportunities in the tourism industry to the communities in Telang Usan.
“We believe that the Covid-19 situation would not last forever; that’s why we hold this tourism awareness programme for us to develop our capacity-building, and also to prepare the local communities and tourism players for the times post-Covid-19,” he said, pointing out that the district and also the greater Baram area had great potential in tourism, especially in ecotourism, due to their diverse flora and fauna.
He assured his ministry will strive to help local communities be involved in community-based tourism such as home stay, event-hosting, traditional food and crafts showcases, ethnic performances, leisure and adventure activities as well as souvenirs-making and marketing, as means for them to reap the benefits from this sector.