Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Sarawak could be considered as a late comer in the tourism sector, but with the continuous promotional efforts, tourist arrivals to the state had increased tremendously compared to 30 years ago.
"In the last nine months, 3.5 million tourists visited Sarawak compared to only 600,000 thirty years ago. The state is now able to be on equal footing with the other states in this sector."
He said this in his speech at the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) 2014 opening and welcoming dinner at the Sarawak State Assembly Hall, here, tonight. Taib said tourism forums such as the AFT were good examples that could expose the uniqueness of Sarawak, and also of the Asean region to the world.
"New areas in Sarawak can be explored (through the forum), while Sarawak with 27 ethnic communities has a variety of cultures to show to the delegates and attract more tourists." He said the forum was a good joint effort to improve tourism in the Asean region.
Taib also said that cooperation between countries in the Asean region was not a new thing, as for example, Sarawak had a good relationship with neighbouring countries like Brunei and Indonesia in terms of promoting tourism.
"This kind of cooperation is able to further the interest of all countries in the Asean region and move us forward in the tourism industry," he added.