The Visit Sarawak Campaign 2019 launched last December has seen the arrival of more 'quality tourists' to the state in the first four months of this year, particularly from Singapore and China.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the term 'quality tourist' refers to those who stay overnight for a few days, as opposed to those who enter the state during the weekend to shop during the day but head back in the evening without spending the night.
"How tourists are counted is after they cross the border. We want more quality tourists and so far, the campaign is successful and we hope to hit the target by year end," he said when met after the grand opening of Aeroville Shopping Mall, here yesterday.
The minister highlighted that many events are being held to attract tourists, beginning with the Asian Television Awards in January, followed by What About Kuching, Kuching International Marathon, Borneo Jazz Festival, Waterfront Jazz Festival, Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) and others scheduled for throughout this year.
The RWMF, he added, usually sees a turnout of over 20,000, of which 30 per cent are from outside Sarawak, while the Borneo Jazz Festival and Waterfront Jazz Festival attract their own niche followers.
"Sarawak's selling points are its diversity, culture and natural environment. When people come in droves, we need more shopping complexes and food places as food is an important part of tourism," said Abdul Karim.
When asked if this meant Kuching needed more shopping malls to attract tourists, he said that mid-range malls are needed as there is a market for it.
"The things sold should complement the tourists coming to Kuching, such as souvenirs and food items for them to bring back.
"We don't need high-end malls, but mid-range ones should be okay."
Earlier, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said the Sarawak government would continue to place importance on the state's tourism industry, as it was an important job-creation sector and a main economic activity.
He said a list of developments are either ongoing or under consideration, including the soon-to-be-opened RM308 million Sarawak Museum Campus and potential upgrades to Sarawak Cultural Village, as well as the possibility of establishing a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in the state.