“Land of hornbills” lure for German tourists

Realizing the tremendous potential of Sarawak has among tourists from Germany and the European Union (EU) countries, Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Abang Johari Tun Openg launched a three times weekly Frankfurt-Kuching direct flight.

Abang Johari said the habit of spending by the Bavarians and Frankfurt is the central location in Western Europe has led him to choose the city as a “hub” to promote Sarawak.

He said Frankfurt hosts numerous international conferences and trade fairs every year like the Frankfurt Automobile Show and the International Book Fair can be used to promote Sarawak.

“During this event we can more or less promote Sarawak and is anticipated to increase interest (between Germany and other European) state,” he said.

He said some 190 airlines are stopping at Frankfurt, “so, anyone who wants to fly to Sarawak can go to Frankfurt and board MAS flight direct to Kuching.”

Abang Johari expected Frankfurt-Kuching direct flight to bring another 50,000 tourists from Europe to Sarawak annually.

Last year 200,000 European visited Sarawak, he said.

“However, in Kuching we only have some 2,800 hotel rooms and is always full, but I personally make sure that tourists from Germany and Europe are comfortable (in Sarawak).,” He said.

Abang Johari was optimistic that Sarawak will reach 5,000,000 visitors this year, a year earlier than the target because it is expected influx of tourists from Germany and other European Union countries.

He also advised residents to take advantage of the Sarawak-Kuching direct flight Frankfurt to go to Germany as a country that offered a variety of business and other opportunities.

Malaysian Ambassador to German, Datuk Kamal Ismaun said the German enjoy the summer between May and September and during other months, they go elsewhere to escape the cold.

“Every time they go abroad, they spend between 10 and 14 days in destination and these include the big-spending tourists,” he told Bernama here.

“What they want most when they go abroad to relax on the beach and playing water sports like jet skiing, kayaking and swimming and is a sport that Sarawak should provide to attract German, “he said.

Kamal said the Germans preferred natural environments such as tropical forests, caves, rivers, wildlife and culture and customs of the places they visited.

If invited to Malaysia, they ask if they can see the Orang Utan, said Kamal.

He said after the setback caused by the September 11 attacks and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the German who showed interest to visit Asia and it should be capitalized by Malaysia, particularly Sarawak, to attract tourists.

If Michael Schumacher for the Formula One race in Sepang come and International circuit, it can be difficult to persuade the other Germans who came to Malaysia because many of them love a challenge, he said.

Kamal said the factors that could work in favor of Malaysia is that most Germans are fluent in English as a subject they are studying for five years during their secondary school education.