SIBU: Tourism is best driven by the private sector as the state anticipates an increase of 16 per cent in the number of tourists visiting Sarawak this year, said Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip. As such, he said, the initiative by homestay operators at Rh Bawang Assan in rolling out the Gawai Tourism 2012 was a right step to entice tourists to the state.
"Tourism is essentially best driven by the private sector. As such, the Bawang Assan initiatives should be lauded. In fact, the more groups doing this, the better. This is where the critical mass comes in. "The number of tourists coming to Sarawak is on the upswing. We are expecting an increase of 16 per cent this year, that is up to four million tourists. Some tourists would want to experience a homestay type of venture," Talib told The Borneo Post.
He was asked his view on operators of homestay in Rh Bawang Assan in innovatively rolling out the Gawai Tourism 2012 last Saturday. The programme paraded a gamut of dazzling cultural activities, augmented with mouth watering delicacies. To chairman of the homestay programme Macarthy Gindau, this year's programme promised a string of exciting cultural activities and competitions, aimed to put Bawang Assan on the world map.
He recalled fondly how tourists from Australia and Holland were attracted by the local culture and the unique way of life at the longhouse. To this, Talib, who is Jepak assemblyman, added: "Sibu has a lot to offer in terms of tourism attractions." Earlier, Macarthy said the programme would, among others, include demonstration on making local delicacies such as 'sarang semut/penyaram', 'kain kebat / tenun', 'pansuh' and 'tuak' (rice wine). To create an unforgettable experience, he said guests and visitors would be treated to 'Ngelangan', a ritual of washing one's feet on a specially crafted wood before going through a special tunnel made from a folded Pua Kumbu.
"The whole intention of the programme is to put Bawang Assan on the world map so that tourists would make it their preferred destination. "Last year, we had tourists from as far as Australia and Holland to experience the Gawai celebration," he said, adding one of the attractions was a `ngajat' competition.
The Borneo Post on 2 July 2012