Destinations

Singapore to be key hub for Sarawak tourism

SINGAPORE: The Sarawak Tourism Board on October 18 unveiled the Visit Sarawak Year logo as a precursor to its official launch in January 2019 at an industry event in Singapore.

The Visit Sarawak logo will be the anchor emblem for the Visit Sarawak campaign.

Sarawak Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin said that the Visit Sarawak campaign is envisioned to place Sarawak on the tourism map as one of the preferred tourism destinations in Southeast Asia.

“The tagline More to Discover underscores Sarawak Tourism Board’s strategy to position the state as a centre of culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals (CANFF) offerings that are not found anywhere else in the world, and ready to be discovered,” he said.

Singapore will be a central hub for Sarawak Tourism Board’s marketing strategies as the Sarawak state government will be setting up an office in Singapore next year.

“This year, we recorded a 16.5 per cent increase in arrivals from January to July which is a good indicator of gaining interest from travellers from the Singapore market, attributable to the increased flights from Singapore through Scoot, Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia which are making daily trips. This gives us a total of more than 600 seats available every day from Singapore to Kuching.”

He said that the three-day, two night Kuching getaway is one of the packages favoured by Singaporeans with Central Sarawak being a rising attraction. Stretching from Sibu, on the lower Batang Rejang, upriver to Kapit and Bintulu and north-eastward along the coast to Bintulu and Miri, Central Sarawak offers some great river journeys, national parks and modern urban conveniences. The Sibu Heritage Centre, the Niah National Park, the Tua Pek Kong temple and Fort Sylvia are some key attractions in this region.

“We will be looking to intensify efforts to increase arrivals from Singapore. In the coming year, Singaporeans can look forward to more new packages that will provide competitively priced offerings focusing on culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals. We will also look forward to explore how we can partner Singapore as our twin city.”

Sarawak had recorded a total spending of RM8.59 billion from tourism in 2017, which accounted for 7.9% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

International arrivals to Sarawak touched 2.6 million last year. Some of the key international markets for Visit Sarawak will be the UK, Germany, the Benelux nations, China, Australia and ASEAN countries. ASEAN countries were a key source of visitors, which accounted for 48.98% or 2.38 million arrivals in 2017.

The newly-minted Sarawak Tourism Board CEO Askor said: “Digital will be a large part of our campaign. Besides creating content on digital platforms to reach out to our markets, we are also developing a mobile app which will anchor the discovery process for all our visitors.”

Sarawak Tourism Board’s new multi-coloured logo spells out “Sarawak” with the tagline “More to discover” to represent the aspirations of the campaign.

Comprising seven colours, in curled script, the red and yellow colours represent the state flag while orange represents the strong spirit and vibrant energy of the different ethnic communities within Sarawak, which is quintessential to Sarawak’s diverse tourism proposition. Green is used to represent the verdant rainforests abundant with wildlife and blue is used to represent the calmness of the ocean along Sarawak’s long coastline.

The uniqueness of the logo is augmented by the hornbill, which replaces the letter A, representing Sarawak’s moniker Bumi Kenyalang or Land of the Hornbills that the state has been known as for many years, which is also an important symbol of luck to the indigenous people of Sarawak.

The industry event saw a performance by award-winning Sarawakian songstress Dayang Nurfaizah and Tuku Kame, an award-winning world music band which went on a global tour as a prelude to the offerings of the campaign.

As the largest state in Malaysia, Sarawak is home to 27 ethnic groups, speaking 45 languages and
dialects, and each with their own stories, colorful cultures, traditions and beliefs that makes Sarawak a
cultural extravaganza just waiting to be explored.

For example, tourists to Sarawak will have the opportunity to meet people from the Iban tribe, known
for their headhunting skills and tribal expansion in the past. While the tribe has long since put their
headhunting practice behind them, they still maintain their rich customs and practices as well as
continue to speak their own language.

The people from upriver, or Orang Ulu, itself comprise of different tribes such as Kayan, Kenyah, Lun
Bawang and Kelabit. They each have their language, lifestyle and culture that are unique. Their exotic
art and music has spread internationally, as seen in the growing popularity of the boat lute or sape, as
played by famous Sarawakian musicians such as Tuku Kame.

World-class museums, easy communication, authentic hospitality and a diverse religious and cultural
trade all form part of the cultural attraction.

Discover Adventures
On land, visitors have a plethora of adventures to choose from – from jungle trekking, adventure
caving to mountain climbing, rock climbing and jungle expeditions. In water, visitors can choose from
river activities, diving, watersports, fishing, skiing and yachting.

Urban explorers can visit Kuching, which has one of the most interesting architecture mix in Malaysia,
with colonial buildings amongst modern architecture.

In addition, visitors can not just only take home the arts and crafts but can also learn how to make
them from the local skilled craftspeople. The Orang Ulu are adept at teaching skilled beadwork, while
the Iban are deft weavers. Both the Melanau and Bidayuh are associated with basketry making and
weaving of hats and artifacts using natural resources like bamboo, palm, rattan and tree bark.

Discover Nature
Sarawak has a whopping 56 totally protected areas, 37 gazetted national parks, five wildlife
sanctuaries and 14 nature reserves. Its rainforests are the size of Austria.

The hornbill and the orang utan are not just the most awe-inducing fauna in the state. Its rainforests
house the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystem. Home to the world’s largest flower, the
Rafflesia (that can grow to the size of a coffee table), squirrels and snakes that fly, deer the size of
cats, plants that eat insects (and small animals).

Home also to the orang utan, the proboscis monkey, the hornbill, the Rajah Brooke butterfly and the silverleaf monkey, experts believe that there are some species of flora and fauna yet to be  discovered.

Mulu National Park is Malaysia’s only gazetted natural park in the UNESCO World Heritage Site
listings together with Kinabalu National Park in the year 2000. Sarawak’s Bako National Park traces
its first visitors’ footprint to 1958, making it one of Malaysia’s oldest.

Its Niah National Park is famed for Sarawak’s genesis, with evidence of human presence from 40,000 years ago discovered in the form of Paleolithic and Neolithic burial sites.

Discover Food
From the delectable “manok pansuh”, which is chicken cooked in bamboo, to the savoury “Sarawak
laksa” to the delicious “kolo mee” to the mouthwateringly crispy jungle fern “midin” dish to the herby
broth known as “kueh chap” and the rich “manok kacangma” made from motherwort and rice wine to
the seasonal “dabai” fruit to the Melanau “umai” delicacy with thin slivers of fish and rich sago pearls,
Sarawak’s very long list of unique culinary offerings is unparalleled.

The late Anthony Bourdain had popularised the “laksa Sarawak” as a breakfast option where he
referred it as “breakfast of gods” and had featured the delectable dish in his globally-acclaimed series No Reservation and the CNN Parts Unknown.

Discover Festivals
Sarawak is home to the most unique festivals in Malaysia throughout the year. The celebration is
literally endless. From the Gawai harvest festivals of thanksgiving to the Kaul, which is celebrated by the
Melanau fishing communities to mark the beginning of the fishing season, Sarawak offers a
plethora of festivals for tourists to participate in.

Contemporary festivals include the world-renowned three-day Rainforest World Music festival which
has run for 21 consecutive years continues to be the star attraction and attracts some 20,000 visitors.

The festival sees world music performers come together to perform and host workshops in the heart of
a rainforest which has attracted ardent followers worldwide and has been voted among the top 25
festivals in the world by the London-based Songline magazine.

Other spectacular festivals include the Borneo Jazz, Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival,
Pesta Kaul, Tidal Bore Festival, Borneo Cultural Festival and Sarawak Regatta. There is even a cat
festival “Pesta Meow” which gathers cats and cat lovers in Kuching.

In Sarawak, there is always More to Discover.

Sarawak Tourism Board is the key promoter for Sarawak. STB is a winner of the Asia Pacific Excellence Awards 2016 by Asia-Pacific Association of Communications Directors (APACD) and has received the ASEAN PR Excellence Award 2015 Gold Award. The Rainforest World Music Festival is a five-time Top 25 Best International Festivals recognised by Songlines world music magazine (2011-2015).

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