‘Sarawak expects to achieve 3.89mn visitors in 2023’
The Malaysian state of Sarawak has made sustainability a key area of its tourism development strategy. In order to educate the travel trade in the Indian market, Tourism Malaysia in association with TravelBiz Monitor has launched the Malaysia Master Specialist e-learning programme, and Sarawak is one of the featured states.
Q1. Sarawak has made sustainability a cornerstone of its tourism strategy. What are steps have you taken in this direction?
STB advocates the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals as follows:
SDG 4 – Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
SDG12 – Responsible Consumption and Production: Research and develop truly sustainable solutions to improve consumption and production
SDG 17- Partnerships for the Goal: Implement and stay on track towards achieving sustainable development
Q2. Could you tell us more about your Rainforest World Music Festival? How does the festival help facilitate bringing more foreign tourists to Sarawak?
The RWMF has been an iconic state event anticipated by many due to its unique blend of traditional and contemporary world music. Festival goers flock from nationally and internationally to immerse themselves in these experiences combining cultural diversity, music appreciation, sustainable practices, and an engaging atmosphere. In addition to that, the festival also empowers the local economy while promoting cross-cultural understanding. Local tour operators and travel agencies often create special packages for the festival goers that combine the festival experience with other attractions in Sarawak. This makes it easier for tourists especially international tourists to plan their trips and invites them to discover more in Sarawak ensuring they make the most out of their stay
Q3. Post-pandemic, the first half of 2023 saw a surge in foreign visitors, with the total visitor count reaching 1.6 million by May. What would be the expected figure by the end of 2023?
During the period Jan- July 2023, Sarawak received a total of 2.2mil (2,269,855) visitors with a growth rate (GR) of +222.5% as compared to the same period in 2022 (703,891 visitors). The Last 7 months (Jan-July 2023) visitor arrival data showed foreign visitor arrivals were 1.2 million and total domestic was 1.02 million. When comparing with the 2023 VA to the pre-pandemic level i.e., 2019 levels Sarawak’s recovery rate is 88.1%. The current VA to Sarawak showed that the state will achieve a total of 3.89 million visitors in 2023.
Q4. With your post-covid strategy, Sarawak aims to be Asia’s premier destination for Eco-tourism by 2030. What is your roadmap for this?
Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 (PCDS 2030)
The Sarawak government has set in motion the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 (PCDS 2030), and the Sarawak Tourism Master Plan 2035 prioritising ecotourism, community-based tourism, and eco-community hosts as strategic focal points in its roadmap to make Sarawak a leading ecotourism destination.
Under PCDS 2030, ecotourism has been identified as the strategic focus under the Tourism Sector Aspiration. The Sarawak Government recognises how ecotourism is a positive force for conservation and development that is economically and ecologically sustainable around the world. Among those KPIs relevant to ecotourism are to increase Community-Based Tourism which includes expanding the number of homestay clusters as well as enriching the monthly household incomes of homestay operators; as well as build eco-community hosts, among others.
In terms of inspiring local tourism stakeholders to adopt a sustainability mindset and practices and developing effective strategies and innovations that will benefit the ecosystem as a whole, the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts (MTCP) Sarawak have conducted a Design Thinking for Responsible Tourism for the 12 Divisional Tourism Task Groups (DTTG) and the local communities in Sarawak.
3rd Sarawak Tourism Master Plan 2021-2035
The Third Sarawak Tourism Master Plan 2021-2035 lis to support the Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 for the tourism sector.
The plan aims to increase the number of visitors to Sarawak from a baseline of 4.6 million visitors and Rm11.6 billion in tourism receipts in 2019 to 12.7 million visitors contributing to RM50 billion in economic returns by 2035.
Q5. Which are some of the traveler segments that Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is targeting in India?
Free and Independent Travelers
Q6. The Indian market offers huge potential to every tourism board, keeping this in mind, does STB have any specific strategy for this market?
STB developed 5 strategies for penetrating Indian market
Strategy 1: Build a destination foundation and enhance the visibility of Sarawak
Increase awareness about “Sarawak” in the Indian market through Sarawak tourism product updates via online and offline platforms in strategic locations in India.
digital promotion, storytelling and B2B sessions.
Strategy 2: OTA Collaboration
OTA collaboration with the leading OTAs in India such as
Make my trip
Strategy 3: Be Ready: Destination Readiness
To give awareness to Sarawak travel agents and tour operators, the accommodation sector & restaurants “HOW TO CATER INDIAN VISITORS”
Design tour packages based on the Indian outbound travelers’ product demands
Strategy 4: Direct-to-Consumer Approach
B2C sessions based on the strategic locations in South India in partnership with airlines/ MATTA/ TM
Tourism product updates in higher education institutions,
Specific focus on Tier 2 locations near the metropolitan cities.
Strategy 5: Be Social – Choose the right platform and set up a strategy for each platform
Digital penetration through the most used social media platforms in India
Instagram, FB , Twitter, Linkedln and Pinterest