Incentives to lure flights to state

Ministry offers waiver of landing, parking charges, office rentals and subsidised airport tax, to China airlines

SHENZHEN, China: Sarawak Tourism Ministry yesterday revealed plans to offer incentives to Chinese tourism companies and charter flights from China to Kuching and Miri to boost tourism in the state.

State Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the incentives for the first six months would include waiving of landing and parking charges, subsidies for airport tax and aero bridge charges as well as waiving office rental in Kuching International Airport (KIA).

This series of incentive will be rolled out next year to assist and encourage interested airlines to take this new route because Sarawak is a new destination for China market, he said.

Our aim is also to build the level of awareness of Sarawak to the China market which is still very foreign, he pointed out.

Abang Johari was at a Sarawak Tourism business meeting with the Consul-General of Malaysia in Guangzhou Muzambli Markam, Trade Consul Suresh Kumar, Tourism Consul Michael Tay as well as Century Holiday International Travel Group president James Liang and general manager Jason Liang at a leading hotel here.

After a fruitful discussion, Malaysia Airports Berhad has agreed to provide free air service for parking and landing while Sarawak Tourism Board will assist with subsidies for airport tax and aero bridge as well as free space for office in airport, he explained.

Abang Johari said his ministry planned to work with three major airlines; namely Air Asia, China Eastern Airline and Hong Kong Express Airways to bring charter flights into Kuching.

We are targeting the southern markets particularly in Guangdong province where there are already direct flights to ten cities including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Zhuhai, Nanning, Guiling, Chengdu, Chongqin and Kunming, he added.

Abang Johari pointed out that there was visible increase in Mainland China tourists to Sarawak over the years, from 35,000 in 2011 to 42,000 last year.

The arrivals from China until September this year has reached 32,000, which is an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to the same period last year, he said.

Muzambli assured that the Malaysian Embassy in Guangzhou would support Sarawak to tap into the China market.

Most Chinese visitors are rather spoilt and would prefer a relaxing vacation while eco-tourism is still very new to them, he said, adding that promotion and marketing were very important tools to build a strong image of Sarawak.

Abang Johari also launched a six-episode tourism documentary in Mandarin that showcased Sarawak to the people of China late yesterday evening.

He is leading an entourage from the Sarawak Tourism Ministry on an 11-day visit to China beginning Dec 1 covering Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.