Monday March 11, 2013
Not just KK and Kuching, please
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: National airlines and the Federal ministries in charge of transportation and tourism development have been urged to include the big urban centres in Sarawak, especially Miri and Sibu, in their plans.
Communications Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said Miri and Sibu had been frequently left out of plans made at the Federal level.
Lee, who is Senadin assemblyman and also Sports Assistant Minister, told The Star yesterday that the national airlines and ministries always gave attention to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
He said the latest addition to the national airline industry – Malindo Air – had not mentioned about flying to other parts of Sarawak other than Kuching.
Lee said Miri and Sibu should be included in the flight routes because there were hundreds of thousands of people living in the two regions.
“It seems that priority has always been given to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching whenever there are new plans for air links or in new tourism promotion activities by the Federal side.
“The other regions of Sarawak have often been left out to a large extent, especially Miri, even though we are a major contributor to the state and national economy.
“The recent announcement by the new airline Malindo Air that it will fly to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu (from KLIA) is a good development. But unfortunately, there is no mention of Miri or other parts of Sarawak such as Sibu or Bintulu.
“Miri is the second largest urban centre in Sarawak with a population of more than 300,000 people.
“It is also the hub of the oil and gas industry for the country and also the gateway to the world heritage site of Mulu National Park.
“Miri is also the focal point of visitors from Brunei, not only for food, shopping and entertainment, but also for them to fly to other destinations using our national airlines.
“Miri has grown in importance and the number of existing flights by MAS (Malaysia Airlines) and AirAsia is not enough to meet the needs of the people here. Flights to Miri are often full and over-booked. Malindo Air must fly to Miri, too.
“Don’t forget us,” he said when commenting on the announcement by Malindo in Kuala Lumpur that the airline would start its flights to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching at the end of the month.
Lee said Miri recorded about two million entries from Brunei every year, thus airlines would enjoy good business not only from locals, but also from Bruneians and expatriates working and living in the oil-rich sultanate.
There was no reason why Miri should be excluded from any major flight plans, he stressed.
Lee, who is also adviser to the Sarawak Tourism Board Miri branch, called on the board, hoteliers and tour operators here to keep pushing for greater recognition and attention from the airlines aas well as the state and Federal tourism promotion authorities.