Airworld Group of Companies chairman Datuk Seri Winston Liaw said the Group aspires to bring in international tourists through charter flights like what they did for Sabah tourism many years ago.
“Many travel agents have closed down due to the pandemic- with Airworld Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd in Gala City, we hope to better serve the Kuching market; we want to provide tourism services and bring in international tourists.
“I spent five years developing the tourism in Sabah during the time when social media was not popular, Chinese nationals had no clue where Sabah was – some even asked what country it is.
“Times have changed and now Korean tourists are thronging Sabah. News reports have it that Chinese tourists are flocking to Hong Kong and after this; I think they may come to Sabah and West Malaysia. We hope to bring tourists to Sarawak.
“Some tourists prefer beaches while others may prefer the rainforests and nature better along with the local delicacies and culture offered at a destination. There is room for Sabah and Sarawak to receive more international tourists,” he said when met by reporters after the opening ceremony at Gala City yesterday.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang was the guest of honour, with MATTA Sarawak Chapter president Oscar Choo present.
Liaw, who is Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents chairman, recalls developing Sabah tourism by mounting the inaugural flight between Kota Kinabalu and Shenzhen, China back in 2000 and Shanghai in 2001.
He said the Group subsequently introduced flights to more cities; Guangzhou, Kunming, Guiyang, Nanning, Guilin, Changsha, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Zhengzhou and to name a few.
“It took us a few years to develop the market in order to continue the series of charter flights – as frequent as three times a week to some destinations.
“Between 2000 and 2005, we only chartered flights during peak seasons in China – Chinese New Year (CNY), Labour Day Holiday and China National day. Meanwhile, from 2005 to 2009, we had flights between Kuching and Beijing – a direct charter during CNY season for five consecutive years,” he said.
He hopes with support from Sarawak Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia, direct flights from Sarawak cities like Kuching and Miri to cities in China could be introduced.
He added Borneo is an island and the only way to receive tourists is through air travel.
“In order to promote Sarawak tourism, we need the support from Sarawakian locals to sustain consistent routes to and from two cities; both ways must have equal passengers load traffic,” Liaw added.
Airworld Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd opens from 8.30am to 5.30pm on weekdays as well as between 8.30am and 12.30pm on Saturdays.
It is located at First Floor, Plot No. 66, Block 16, Gala City (above Traditional Bun), and can be reached at 082-282500 or 016-8981377.
The Borneo Post