The Kuching Heritage Walk with the media took place on January 11, with the Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin and the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Sarawak Tourism Board, Madam Mary Wan Mering, with the objective of promoting cultural and heritage tourism in the city centre of Kuching.
The Heritage Walk began at the Chinese History Museum at waterfront, proceeded to the three Chinese temples along the central road of the town, Carpenter Street, and ended at the Sarawak Museum.
Kuching has hundreds of years of history, and the heritage sites, buildings and relics can be found throughout the city centre, and some of that history is a living history, with some of the oldest restaurants and shops in Kuching still open today.
The walk was particularly special as Datuk Lee brought the media to view the newly discovered pottery shards found near Kuching Waterfront, which the Sarawak Museum personnel believe date back to the Qing Dynasty era.
Getting around Kuching will be getting a lot easier by the end of 2017, as the Stage Bus Service Transformation (SBST) Kuching begins full force.
Honorary secretary of Sarawak Bus Transport Companies Association, William Chan, announced that the SBST project will span 27,000km comprising of 15 trunk routes and 12 feeder routes daily, with a fleet of 130 new buses.
The new routes and buses are not replacing, but are being added, to the fleets of the five existing stage bus operators in Kuching.
Kuching has grown as a tourist destination and a major concern for tourists is often ease of transportation, and the addition of new buses and scheduled bus routes will undoubtedly bolster the public transport’s efficiency.
Hon. Datuk Amar Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Openg was sworn in as Sarawak’s sixth Chief Minister before the Head of State, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at the Astana, Kuching on January 13.
Datuk Amar Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari, whose last Cabinet appointment as Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Housing and Minister for Arts and Culture, was appointed to Chief Minister’s post following the demise of the Right Honorable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem on Wednesday, January 11.
Fondly known as Datuk Amar Abang Haji Johari, the new Chief Minster has been a driving force in the tourism industry and was well-liked in the industry circle.
The Sarawak Tourism industry joined all fellow Sarawakians in sharing the loss of Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Rt Hon. Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Adenan bin Satem who passed away on January 11.
As a mark of respect, the State Government has declared a mourning period of seven days beginning January 11 and to be observed throughout the state.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak is working in collaboration with the Sarawak Museum Department to create an archaeological park along the Peninsula of Santubong, a historically, culturally and spiritually significant place an hour’s drive from Kuching city.
Santubong is the location of five archaeological sites that hold insight into the history of early life in Sarawak, with evidence of civilization being uncovered dating back to the 7th century and possibly to the arrival of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam to the island through trade.
The area holds a special significance in global history, as Alfred Russel Wallace carried out some of his most critical research, which led to the creation of ‘Sarawak Law’, which talks about the origin of species and is later included in the theory of evolution together with Darwin.
The location itself holds great spiritual significance to the local tribes, particularly the Iban, as their legends and myths revolve around Mount Santubong such as the story of Princess Santubong, the Cursed Crocodile Stone as well as the Batu Bergambar.
The Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture, Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has opinioned that the Peninsula needs to be preserved for its historical significance, and has proposed the creation of an information centre in the Santubong area, where information as well as groundbreaking updates on the five sites can be displayed.
“We want to improve the facilities in this area with friendly infrastructure which everyone can easily access,” he said, mentioning improved roads for ease of accessibility, so that the archaeological park may become a cultural and tourism attraction in addition to a scientific boon to Sarawak.
The project has been slowly taking shape and all new facilities estimated to be finished by 2019.
Kuching City has ranked eighth place as a rising destination on TripAdvisor’s 2016 Traveller’s Choice Awards for all of Asia.
The award recognises 43 destinations on the rise all around the world, using algorithms that measure TripAdvisor traveller reviews and ratings throughout the world over the course of the year.
“We hope these winning lists will inspire those planning trips in 2017 to consider booking their holidays with some of these rising destinations, be it Baku, Da Lat or Kuching,” said Communications Director of TripAdvisor Asia Pacific, Ms Janice Lee Fang.
These destinations are rapidly gaining global popularity among travel communities.
Kuching solidified its eight place slot through its high ratings in enriching experiences through immersive displays of local heritage, especially through attractions such as the museums and the longhouses of the local ethnic groups.
Reviews of the Sarawak Cultural Village, known as a living museum, as well as the easily booked centrally-located hotels like the LimeTree Hotel also aided in the ranking.
The Sarawak State Government will collaborate with different media agencies from China through Beijing AOWEI Media Sdn Bhd to promote Sarawak as the preferred tourist destination.
This coming year, new initiatives such as the Malaysia – China Chinese New Year Night and China Avenue of Stars Grand Convert will be held in Kuching, with the celebrities and popular social media influencers documenting their visit on social media to their fans throughout that time.
“Eight popular singers from China will be making their appearances as well at the concert. During the same period, there will also be film shoot at different locations in the state by producers from China,” said the Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Lee Kim, who met recently with the AOWEI Media group.
Datuk Lee disclosed that four of China’s top models, managed by Fashion TV, were in Kuching recently and visited various places in Kuching for Photo-shoot, proving that this avenue of advertising through popular spokespeople has a very wide viewership.
Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Acting CEO of STB, Mary Wan Mering were present during the meeting with the Beijing AOWEI officials to discuss the future of Sarawak’s promotion in China.
The Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) celebrated its 21st Anniversary on November 18, with their Staff Appreciation Night as a highlight of the celebration
The night was attended by members of the Tourism Industry including the Minister and Assistant Ministers of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, current and former Board of Directors, current and former-chairmen as well as the local media.
During the celebration, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak, Datuk Amar Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg gave Long Service Award to eight members of staff, as well as the Excellent Service Award, for their tireless loyalty and service to the Board and the tourism industry.
Assisting him in handing out the awards are Assistant Minister for Tourism Sarawak, Datuk Dr. Lee Kim Shin, Assistant Minister for Arts and Culture Sarawak, Datuk John Sikie ak Tayai, the Assistant Minister of Infrastructure and Urbanisation Sarawak and former chairman, Datuk Haji Talib Bin Zulpilip as well as current Chairman, Datuk Haji Abdul Wahab Bin Aziz
The Long Service Awardees include Mdm. Mary Wan Mering, Puan Mastura Morshidi, Mr. Luan Jenggi, Mr. Yusup Labo, Mr. Jessie Mengka, Mr. Jefri Marsit, Puan Nujaimi Laudin and Puan Angela Linsam.
The Excellent Service Award was awarded to Mdm. Mary Wan Mering, Mr. Maurice Balang, Mr. Michael Lu and Pn. Suria Bt. Mohd. Razali for their outstanding service to the Board.
The Honorary Secretary-General to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Francesco Frangialli arrived in Mulu for a visit to Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on November 15 to 17.
His trip was initiated by the Assistant Minister for Tourism Sarawak, Datuk Lee Kim Shin.
During his stay, which was hosted by the Sarawak Tourism Board, Frangialli took a guided tour of the Park’s rainforest and the four show caves, which are the Deer Cave, Lang Cave, Wind Cave and the Clearwater Cave.
“I’ve been to many caves in my life, but none as impressive as this” Said Frangialli as he expressed his awe when he was presented to the Deer Cave’s main passage.
Mulu National Park obtained its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, becoming one of the few sites displaying four ‘World Heritage’ with an outstanding example of major changes in the earth’s history, a scene of exceptional natural beauty, a site that supports one of the richest congregations of flora to be found in any area of comparable size in the world, it has provided significant scientific opportunities for research on the flora of the site, specifically the origins of over 200 recorded species of cave fauna in Mulu National Park’s caves.
The Mulu National Park remains one of Sarawak’s prime tourist destination as it displays the three core traits of Sarawak tourism: culture, adventure and nature.
Sarawak will now be allowing Chinese tourists to pass through the Miri International Airport as well as the Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security (ICQS) facility in Sungai Tujuh border to Brunei using a Special Entry Pass, effective immediately.
Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg has expressed his continued endorsement in the wake of an influx of Chinese tourists to the state and has announced that all ICQS facilities should be equipped with these Special Entry Passes for convenience.
The purpose of the passes is to ease the travel of tourists from China throughout the state, as currently Kuching is only entry point to Sarawak equipped with Visa-On-Arrival facilities.
These passes are mutually beneficial for Sarawak and Brunei as it coincides with Brunei’s current campaign to attract more tourists from China and tourists can now move easily between Miri and Brunei with little hassle.
Sarawak is expecting to see growing arrival and demands for chartered flights to and from China in the wake of these Special Entry Passes, eliminating the tediousness of pre-travel Visa applications.