KUCHING: There is a need to develop technology-based tourism in the state as a way forward.

This will help to ensure that the industry could recover amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

“For example,the utilisation of Sarawak Travel App as part of our Sarawak Tourism Promotion Campaign is vital as it can be a great promotion and marketing tool for our tourism.

“By enhancing the Sarawak Travel App under the 12th Malaysia Plan, we can integrate it as an e-commerce platform to enable tour agencies to promote and sell their tour packages online.

“This will provide a convenient one-stop service for tourist to search information on places and available tour packages for purchase,” he said in a blog post today.

Ultimately, it boils down to providing a secure and reliable digital platform for our industry players to boost their income and revive the tourism industry, the minister pointed out.

“A comprehensive visitor data to Sarawak is also important for proper tourism contribution assessment and effective tourism policy formulation.

“Among other digital initiatives planned include S-MM2H (Sarawak/Malaysia My Second Home Programme) online application, Digital Visitors Landing App, digitalisation of Sarawak Tourism Satellite Account (STSA) and Digital Visitor Tracking App,” he said.

Abdul Karim said last year, the visitor arrivals to Sarawak dropped by 74 percent to 1,199,872 compared to the corresponding period in 2019 (4,662,419) due to Covid-19.

“The tourism receipt had declined 75 percent to RM2.88 billion as compared to the same corresponding period in 2019. The pandemic itself had caused the tourism industry to suffer an estimated total loss of RM8.69 billion.

“Nevertheless, I believe that we still can revive our tourism industry by boosting the domestic tourism activities with our Sia Sitok Sarawak Tour Package. It will enhance the people’s confidence to travel domestically while the borders are still closed,” he said.

It is vital that the ministry to ensure tourism development is inclusive to involve community-based tourism though homestay, local hosts, craft and souvenirs to reap the benefits from tourism especially in raising their household income, pointed out the minister.

“We believe that the strategies we have planned are achievable and together we can do so much more,”  said Abdul Karim.