Sunday October 28, 2012
Annual event to be known as Jong Festival beginning next year
By VANES DEVINDRAN
KUCHING: From next year onwards, the Jong Regatta in Bau will be known as Jong Festival so as to include more fun activities apart from the boat race itself.
Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said this would allow organisers to tie up more games and activities to make the event more colourful and entertaining.
“In a way, this would create a brand for the event and branding is essential to get international attention. Jong Regatta is unique to Bau and Sarawak alone.
“Thus, we should properly position it and share it with the rest as our tourism product,” he said when launching the 2012 Jong Regatta yesterday.
In addition, he said the next step was to determine a better timing for the festival so it could attract more people.
Speaking to reporters later, Dawos said the Jong Festival should coincide with the summer holidays and the school break.
He pointed out that the former would have more tourists from European countries flocking to the state, whereas the latter would see more visitors travelling bet- ween the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.
“I was speaking to a tour operator for European tourism and found that although the tourists there come in small groups, there’s a steady flow of visits. This is because other than the flora and fauna of Sarawak, they do not feel too res- tricted here. They are free to dress in shorts and tank tops and could easily have a beer at coffee shops. So its an ideal and relaxing holiday,” he explained.
Furthermore, he said Sarawak as a destination was cost-effective for them.
On the jongs, Dawos would want to see more innovation injected into creating them.
He said while the community continued with the making of their traditional jongs, they must also learn to change the designs so as to open up more categories in the regatta.
“They can have power-operated jongs instead of sticking to only the conventional ones. This is how other sporting events have upgraded themselves around the world. They get more innovative and creative — such moves are attention-grabbing,” he added.
Earlier on, the regatta organising chairman Simon Japut said there would be several activities and games lined up for the two-day event including mass aerobics, blowpipe competition, power boat racing, colouring contest, petanque, a beauty pageant, a mini-concert as well as a lucky draw.
“We also have stalls selling handicrafts and authentic local dishes. The event is indeed growing in size and this year alone, we have received 400 entries (for the regatta),” he said.
The Jong Regatta began in 1950 and was initially held to recognise the history of the race event organised by the Chinese who came to work at the gold mines in Bau.