Abdul Karim: Sarawak should work with relevant authorities, other countries to implement VTL
Posted on : 22 Jan 2022  Source of News: The Borneo Post

KUCHING (Jan 22): Sarawak should work it out with the relevant authorities and other countries to realise the implementation of Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), said Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister said if VTL is implemented, this would open Sarawak’s border to regional countries with probably Singapore as a start followed by Brunei and Indonesia.

“We are looking forward to the new year of 2022 with a positive outlook as Sarawak enters Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan where more activities could be allowed with relaxed health and safety protocols.

“This will help the tourism and creative sector to recover,” he said when addressing the staff of the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts (MTCP) here today.

Abdul Karim, in hoping the Covid-19 pandemic will move into an epidemic soon, said the Ministry targets Sarawak’s tourist arrivals in 2022 to reach at least 1.2 million visitors.

“The arrival in December 2021 has jumped more than 500 per cent compared  to  December 2020.

“As the health and safety protocols are further relaxed, we are optimistic that tourism  and creative industry will be fully recovered back to 2019 level by the end of 2023 or  beginning of 2024,” he said.

He also said as Sarawak opens up for more flights from 307 per week to 562 per week  into the state, MTCP should continue with its focus on domestic tourism and home-grown business events by engaging the industry players through various incentives  and programmes.

“We have just launched the Sia Sitok Plus campaign in Kuala Lumpur last week in  collaboration with Malaysia Airlines. The campaign is another initiative after our Sia  Sitok 1.0, Sia Sitok 2.0 and Sia Sitok Accommodation held in 2020 and 2021 to incentivize domestic tourism,” he said.

He also said the renaming of the ministry from its previous name of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture does not affect its scope and coverage, which is to continue to uphold its vision to ensure that Sarawak to become a premier tourism destination and a unique showcase of its arts, culture and heritage.

“I appreciate the presentation by the Permanent Secretary of MTCP on the outcome and highlights of the Way Forward for 2022 just now.

“And I can see that much effort has been put in by all of you to ensure that the mission of MTCP – To lead the advancement of Sarawak’s tourism, arts, culture and heritage is attained. I have full confidence that MTCP and its agencies are on the right path to lead the tourism and creative industry towards recovery after two years of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Also present at the event were his assistant ministers Datuk Sebastian Ting and Datuk Snowdan Lawan, and the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.