SIBU: The Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) has called for the establishment of Singapore–Sibu and Penang–Sibu direct flights to bring more tourists to the state, especially to the picturesque Rajang River Basin.
Its Dudong branch chairman, Wong Ching Yong said with direct flights between Sibu and Singapore, Sarawak Tourism Board could intensively promote the attractive ecological environment of the Rajang River Basin to Singaporeans and come up with tour packages for the area which had a combined population of nearly half a million.
“It is going to be another Visit Malaysia Year next year but since it was first held in 1990, many Sarawakians feel that it has not brought significant economic benefits to the state, especially to the Rajang River Basin,” he claimed during a press conference, here, today.
This, he said, happened because there were no direct flights from Singapore to Sibu and the lack of tourism events in the area.
“It seems the Rajang River Basin has been neglected. What is puzzling is that the unique and picturesque ecological landscape of the basin, which is fascinating in the eyes of foreigners, has not received the full attention and support of the relevant authorities,” Wong said.
Meanwhile, the Sarawak Tourism Board calendar shows that Sibu has only two touristic items this year, which are the Borneo Cultural Festival and International Dance Festival, both to be held next month.
Wong said information sourced from the Immigration Department and published in the Sarawak Tourism Board website showed that more than 4.5 million people visited the state each year since 2015, while over 320,000 visitor arrivals were recorded in January this year, an increase of 140,000 compared to the number recorded in the previous year.
He disclosed that yesterday, SUPP deputy president Datuk Chieng Buong Toon, its Nangka branch deputy chairman Chua Beng Seng, Bukit Assek branch deputy chairman Yek Tiew Chiong and himself visited the AirAsia Sibu office to discuss the possibility of having direct flights between Sibu and Singapore and the Sibu–Penang route.
“The possibility of direct Sibu–Penang flights, based on the demeanour of the person in charge, is relatively small,” he said.
Wong also said that while trying to draw more tourists, equally important was for the government to improve and upgrade the infrastructural facilities of tourist attractions.
On another matter, he said, after Malaysia Airlines and MasWings ceased serving the Sibu–Kuching sector, critically–ill patients could not be flown to Kuching.
“AirAsia which serves the sector now, is unable to fly the patients as it cannot accommodate stretchers.
“AirAsia and Sibu Hospital have discussed the matter several times, but so far there is no imminent solution to it,” he said and hoped another meeting between the two parties could be held in the near future. — Bernama