Johari laments growing lack of air connectivity
By VANES DEVINDRAN
3rd october 2011
KUCHING: Route rationalisation following the share swap between MAS and AirAsia continues to haunt Sarawak’s tourism sector, dampening the mood at the prestigious 4th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award.
The reduction of flight frequency to the state became the main talking point at the gala dinner.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the announcement that Firefly would reduce flight frequency and gradually cease flying to Sarawak would bring down the number of arrivals as the year came to a close.
“To Sarawak, air connectivity is a very critical factor in pushing up arrivals and I regard it as a bloodline for the industry,” he said when representing the Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at the dinner on Saturday.
Johari said the state government would continue to take up the matter with the relevant authorities at the federal level.
That aside, he said, it was his hope that MASwings would be the solution to the problem if it could be developed into a regional airline.
He believed that MASwings could service East Malaysia and cover the BIMP-EAGA area as well as extending to four other hubs, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Bali.
Earlier on, Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip, in his address, said the situation in the state was getting worse following the route rationalisation.
Despite this, however, the state, according to Johari, can still take comfort from the fact that the success rate of Sarawak Convention Bureau’s (SCB) bid has been growing year on year, reaching an impressive 70% in 2010.
“In this highly competitive global market, Sarawak has bid successfully against some of the world’s top convention cities from Europe, Australia and North Asia.
“To date SCB has secured a total of new 172 conventions, which are expected to generate 287,000 delegate days and RM180mil in direct delegate expenditure for the state,” he said.
He said already for 2013, 14 international conventions had been confirmed and this would see over 6,000 delegates attending.
He also said that despite consumers cutting back on travel due to the global economic crisis, leisure travel would continue to account for the greater portion of the travel retail with revenues three times higher than corporate travel.
According to him, leisure travel has been predicted to top US$600mil (RM1.8bil) in 2015.
“Leisure travel proved to be more resilient during the economic downturn with holidays remaining one indulgence for consumers during a recession although numbers declined as consumers opted for fewer breaks,”he added.