It is without doubt that the recent COVID-19 outbreak has greatly impacted the tourism industry in Malaysia, including Sarawak, with a drop of 52% in its estimated tourist arrivals.
With health and safety placed as the top priority, people are now resorting to teleconferencing to communicate, rather than exhibitions and conferences as previously done. This has urged the authorities to review strategic plans to regain tourists’ confidence.
The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Youth and Sports Sarawak, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that the state is reviewing the industry insights through surveys conducted by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Business Events Sarawak (BES) and Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) to analyse the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. It is also looking at ways to improve the current “responsible travel” experience in Sarawak, in addition to being innovative in marketing products after the Movement Control Order (MCO) is lifted.
“Tourism will be slower to pick up its momentum after the MCO is lifted compared to other industries. “It is the right time to do a product audit to improve the standard and quality of current products as well as introduce new products to tourists”, he said, adding that products and packages would be made available on e-commerce platforms by leveraging the Sarawak Travel App and portal.
PUTRAJAYA – The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) launched the domestic tourism recovery programme on June 10, 2020, in its efforts to revive the tourism sector and boost confidence in the market following the onset of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) starting from June 10 until August 31, 2020.
“Although the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY 2020) has been cancelled, efforts to promote the country as a safe tourism destination will still continue. This campaign also encompasses both the Tourism Recovery Plan and Culture Recovery Plan,” said the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri.
Detailed standard operating procedures have been proposed by the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health for eight sub sectors. The sub sectors are arts, culture and heritage exhibitions at cultural public facilities; hotel and accommodation; tour operator companies, tour guides, tourism training institute operations; homestay programmes’ adventure tourism, as well as scuba diving and snorkelling.
Several strategies had also been identified, which include prioritising the use of digital platforms such as social media, blogs, websites, as well as e-marketing to regain the public’s confidence to travel again. A survey would also be carried out to strengthen domestic tourism and in preparation for an increase in foreign tourists from nearby countries upon the reopening of the country’s borders.
“A ‘travel bubble’ will be created for green zone countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Cambodia or ASEAN countries and those in the Asia Pacific region, that are safe and acknowledged by the World Health Organisation, the Health Ministry and Home Ministry,” she added.
Dreaming of sinking your feet into flour-soft sand, forging through the depths of the rainforest and enjoying the beautiful evening sunsets? While we wait to get the OK to travel again, plan out your trips to enjoy the outdoors at The Village House, located near Santubong.
Fun In the Sun The Village House one (1) night stay with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided and Bike Tour for only RM180 nett per person *Twin sharing basis in Village Double/Twin room
Get Wild at the Wetlands The Village House one (1) night stay with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided and Bike Tour for only RM300 nett per person *Twin sharing basis in Village Double/Twin room.
Summit Mount Santubong The Village House one (1) night stay with breakfast, lunch and dinner and Bike Tour for only RM250 nett per person *Twin sharing basis in Village Double/Twin room.
Book now till June 30, 2020 for stays from June 10 to December 31, 2020.
The Village House only accepts guest above 12 years of age.
Located about 48km from Bintulu, Sebauh is a small town with over 20,000 residents. Seated on an island directly opposite Sebauh is the floating Natok Kon Sebauh Temple.
Locals believed that the temple houses three deities that possess immense powers and will come to aid anyone in need. To get there, one must take a boat from the jetty. Upon arrival, you will notice that the temple is completely separated from land, surrounded by water. There are many legends on how the temple came along. The Chinese have their own version while the Ibans have theirs.
According to the local Chinese community, the legend involves three fishermen on board looking for wild ferns across the river before their boat was struck by a storm, flipped over and disappeared at the scene. A huge rock that resembles a boat then appeared at the spot where the boat sank. Apparently, when the moon is high, three figures in white robes can be seen lurking on the island.
A slightly light-hearted version involves three Malay fishermen; Haji Salleh, Tuanku Silai and Mohammad Su who were fishing at Kuala Sebauh a month before the Lunar New Year. While having lunch on their boat, two fishes suddenly jumped up from the river and landed on Haji Salleh’s plate which made his friends laugh out loud. Then, a lizard from the roof of their boat dropped on to his plate, making them laugh even louder. They laughed so hard that the boat sank. Half a year later, an island appeared at the very site the boat sank and the three figures can often be seen on the island when the moon is high.
Meanwhile, the Iban folklore tells that there were three Malay sailors on a boat from Kuala Bintulu to Sebauh. One day, the cook had made some sago porridge. Instead of eating it, they played with the porridge by stretching and stirring it around each other’s heads. Their foolishness angered the Almighty, turning them into stones. A powerful shaman came along and charmed the stone boat, moving it to the current site. A long time ago, the island resembled a boat however, over the years, erosion took its toll.
Bario, or pronounced as ‘bariew’, is a village located at the northeast of Sarawak, bordering the Indonesian Kalimantan. It is home to the Kelabit tribe, one of the many Orang Ulu (upriver) tribes in Sarawak.
Lying at an altitude of 3,500 feet above sea level, Bario surrounds you with air that is cool and light, where one long breath would instantly refresh you, hence, its name ‘bariew’ – which means wind in the Kelabit language. The wind here is as gentle as life itself mainly for farmers who still call it home.
It is also affectionately known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Handshakes’, which signifies how friendly the locals are as they will greet you as you wander around the community.
The Kelabit population is only about 6,000 in Sarawak, out of which only about 1,200 Kelabit are still in Bario and the Kelabit highlands as most of them, especially the younger generations have migrated to urban areas such as Lawas and Miri.
There are two ways of getting to Bario; by air and by road. The most popular method is to fly using MASWings from Miri to Bario, which takes about 45 minutes. However, for those who favour more adventure and have extra time at hand, take a road trip through the oldest rainforest in the world, from Lawas to Ba’kelalan via a 4-wheel drive and then a two days trek on foot to Bario.
Places like Bario and Ba’Kelalan are almost untouched by the modern, fast-paced, technology-driven world. This is why they are perfect for when you need to disconnect and unwind from the outside world while reconnecting with yourself.
Sarawak, the largest State in Malaysia is home to 27 ethnic groups, with 45 different dialects spoken every day and each has its own unique stories, traditions and beliefs to tell.
It’s most important festivals such as Eid al-Fitr (or Hari Raya Aidilfitri) and the Gawai Festival (Hari Gawai) are just around the corner, amidst a controlled Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). Travelling is still restricted at the moment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While we await to travel again, Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV), in cooperation with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is offering virtual tours of the different ethnic homes in Sarawak.
As these ethnic homes are geographically dispersed around Sarawak, the virtual tour will be centred in Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) itself, an award-winning Living Museum located just across Damai Beach Resorts and Hotels. Visitors to SCV can experience Sarawak in just half a day by touring this 17-acre village as it provides a glimpse of the culture and lifestyles of the diverse ethnic groups in Sarawak.
An exciting discovery has been made at a little town called Batu Gajah, located in Bintulu, in Sarawak’s central region. Here, visitors can find Bintulu’s first ever Giant Tortoise!
Measuring at a size similar to a 2-storey building, the Giant Tortoise rock formation can be seen at the Samalaju Beach, Bintulu, which is about one and a half hour’s drive from Bintulu town.
Photographer, Michael Wong, who first visited the location with other photographers in September 2019, again visited the Giant Tortoise this year to capture some shots. “It was definitely a great experience for me. For those who are interested to visit this place, it is better to go whenever the weather is good via a four-wheel drive vehicle,” he said.
Another visitor, known only as Mr. Ung said that the journey to the Giant Tortoise will also include driving through a 5km muddy road and sometimes, visitors might need to walk to get there, but it is worth the visit.
Kayaking, a water sport which involves paddling using a double-bladed oar and a kayak, has been gaining popularity as one of the must-try activities among adventure lovers and thrill seekers while visiting Sarawak.
The experience will become more valuable when kayaking and enjoying the beautiful sight of our Borneo rainforest canopy, encountering wildlife and sharing the experiences with the people of the area.
The package started out as a family-based business in 2011, the Semadang Borneo Adventure, also known as Semadang Kayak, features their tour focusing on adventures along the Upper Sarawak River with products ranging from river kayaking, bamboo rafting, caving and jungle trekking.
Semadang Kayak has well trained, friendly professional staff and certified guides to ensure the safety of all their guests during any of its activities.
With the risk assessments duly undertaken, Semadang Kayak has been consistently providing an adventure of a lifetime for all guests.
With their motto, “Arrive as guests and leave as a friend”, Semadang Kayak provides a personalised service and having you to leave home with memorable experiences in Borneo.
At present, tours have been temporarily suspended since March 18 to adhere with the government’s decision of the restricted movement order due to the current Covid-19 outbreak.