By Emma Victoria
Sarawak is projecting to receive only two million tourists this year, less than half of last year’s figures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the target for this year is significantly lower because the outbreak had forced Sarawak to close its doors to tourists for about three months.
“Our target last year was five million tourists. This year, I would be very happy if we have two million tourists,” he said after attending a dialogue on the state tourism industry held in Sejingkat yesterday, Bernama reported.
Karim said tourist arrivals in Sarawak had dropped by 48.9 per cent in the first five months of this year, with losses suffered by the industry estimated at RM3 billion.
He said the industry is now focusing on domestic tourism to set the sector on the road to recovery.
“We are not expecting Sarawak to receive many foreign tourists in the next six months.”
He said this was due to the fact that the borders of many countries were still closed and Sarawak would require visitors to the state to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
His ministry had set aside RM1 million to introduce a Visitors Incentive Package (VIP) for the benefit of local Sarawak tour companies, effective from July 1 to Dec 31 this year.
The amount of incentives would depend on the number of tourists who booked through tour companies and their length of stay in the state, he said.