| Azlan Othman |
VISITORS from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and China made the largest chunk of travellers going to Sarawak where in the first five months of this year (January-May), tourist arrivals numbered 1,797,634 compared to 1,750,640 visitors in the corresponding period last year, Malaysia’s Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin told the media.
He said there was a 2.68 per cent increase in tourist arrivals in the first five months of this year, from the same period in 2018.
On a related matter, Lee hoped that the vehicle clearance system currently being implemented at the Sungai Tujoh Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Miri would be improved as soon as possible to facilitate the arrival of tourists coming through Brunei.
He said the system had been a source of frustration for travellers, and feared that it would turn away tourists especially those coming for the Borneo Jazz Festival (BJF).
“It is sad to see that tourists are waiting at our doorstep, but they are turned away because of this system,” he said.
The Bulletin reported on Friday that the Royal Malaysia Customs Department had begun a trial run for its new Vehicle Monitoring System (VMS) on June 25, in hopes of cutting travel time across the border between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.
Primarily targetted at motorists crossing between Brunei and Miri, the trial run will be conducted over the course of two months at the Sungai Tujoh Control Post, until August 26.
According to a Sungai Tujoh Control Post representative, motorists will be required to have their vehicle Quick Response (QR) code scanned when entering and exiting Malaysia.
Currently the trial run is focussing on non-Malaysians, Malaysians holding permanent residency at any foreign country, and Malaysians who hold a valid working permit for any foreign country endorsed in the holder’s passport.
The trial run is only applied for Brunei-registered vehicles entering Malaysia through the Miri border, via the Sungai Tujoh Control Post.
Lee also added that Sarawak is still on track of hitting its target of five million tourist arrivals by the end of this year, and that the ‘Visit Sarawak Campaign 2019’ is attracting more tourists to Sarawak.
“We still believe that the five million tourist arrivals target can be achieved. We expect more tourists in July and August, which is the peak season,” he told reporters after the unveiling of tourism brochures for Sarawak’s nine divisions, on Thursday.