The Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister said Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) had signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the KUG initiative on October 6, 2022.
This initiative will provide direct flights from Kuching to Jeddah and Medina in Saudi Arabia commencing in 2023, he added.
“KUG visitors can enjoy direct flights to Jeddah or Medina, while feeder flights will be from Pontianak, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Samarinda, Ujung Padang (Makassar), Jakarta, Indonesia and Mindanao, Philippines to support the mainline operations of the Umrah flight carriers.
“Through this programme, travellers can fly from each respective location and stopover in Kuching for a pre- or post-tours before they fly direct to Jeddah or Medina, or on their journey home,” he said in his ministerial winding up speech during the State Legislative Assembly sitting today.
Abdul Karim said the KUG operation is expected to commence in the upcoming umrah season in the third quarter of 2023.
On another note, Abdul Karim said his ministry is optimistic in achieving more than three million visitor arrivals in 2023 and expecting to generate RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts.
As of April 2023, he said Sarawak has received 1.30 million visitor arrivals, an increase of 315.41 per cent as compared to the same period in 2022 and generated RM3.27 billion in tourism receipts.
In 2022, Abdul Karim said Sarawak received 2.03 million visitor arrivals which was an increase of 761.84 per cent as compared to the same corresponding period in 2021, bringing in an estimated tourism receipt of RM4.96 billion.
He also noted that tourist arrivals into Malaysia in 2022 had increased by 7,375.03 per cent to 10.07 million, compared to the same corresponding period in 2021 and generated RM28.2 billion in tourism receipts.