SMARTguide - Sarawak

cleverdis

SMARTGUIDE

Sarawak: a new vision

Culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals…

in Malaysia’s largest state

INFORMATION

AND IDEAS

FOR TRAVEL

PROFESSIONALS

NEW TOURISM

STRATEGY

HOW SARAWAK

PLANS TO INCREASE

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM

LATEST NEWS:

INFRASTRUCTURE,

ORIGINAL PROMOTIONS,

NOVEL DESTINATION

IDEAS


CONTENT

EDITORIAL

#03 VISION

Reinvigorating tourism in Sarawak

Puan Sharzede Datu Hj Salleh Askor,

CEO, Sarawak Tourism Board

#04 FACTS & FIGURES

Sarawak works to boost international tourism

#05 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Tourism - an essential pillar of Sarawak’s economy

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister

of Tourism, Arts and Culture cum Minister of

Youth and Sport, Sarawak

#06 TRADE TALK

Destination Sarawak – as seen by travel

professionals

Richard Barnes

Editor-in-Chief

Sarawak – an open

book for tourism

#07 THEMATIC TRAVEL

UP CLOSE AND

PERSONAL WITH

SARAWAKʼS

DIVERSE

CULTURAL ROOTS

SARAWAK

HOME TO

COUNTLESS

FESTIVALS

#20 MICE

MICE in Sarawak

#08

#21 TRANSPORT & INFRASTRUCTURE

#23 SARAWAK MAPS

#12

WHITE RAJAH

BROUGHT BACK

TO LIFE

#10

NEW ROLE

FOR

SEMENGGOH

#18

Destination Borneo, and more

particularly the Malaysian state

of Sarawak, evokes a number

of images for people today: a

wild land… the domain of the

orangutan… the numerous Dayak

indigenous cultures… virgin

rainforest… the extraordinary

history of Sarawak’s “White

Rajahs”. Indeed, Sarawak today

still has all of that, but also

boasts a tourism offering that

is evolving quickly, while seeing

the application of a strict policy

ensuring eco-responsibility and

sustainability.

One cannot say Sarawak has

everything. No, it doesn’t

have skyscrapers, it doesn’t

have multi-lane traffic jams, it

doesn’t have thick smog haze,

and it certainly doesn’t have

overtourism. Sarawak remains

very much an open book when

it comes to tourism, in a good

sense, as the state authorities

have been able to look at best

and worst-case scenarios in

other parts of Southeast Asia,

and plan accordingly to ensure

tourism in this state heads in the

right direction.

With a new CEO since late 2018, in

the person of Sharzede Datu HJ

Salleh Askor, Sarawak Tourism

Board is honing strategies for

promotion and infrastructure

improvement with a view to

developing international tourism.

This is being done in such a way

as to benefit local communities,

while delivering unforgettable

experiences – truly adding value

– through a new multi-pronged

plan covering culture, adventure,

nature, food and festivals

(CANFF).

This SMARTguide aims to be

a veritable “decision-making

tool” for the travel professional,

delivering important destination

news and new ideas when it

comes to planning travel to this

place. We are sure you will find

it to be extremely valuable for

all those in the travel planning

business.

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With the participation of: Bettina Badon, Benjamin Klene, Xiaojing Si, Jasdeep Singh, Veronika Verzhak

• On cover: Iban longhouse on Batang ai lake © Cleverdis

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2 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


Datuk Abdul Karim

Rahman Hamzah

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture,

Youth and Sports, Sarawak

WE ARE SATISFIED

WITH THE POSITIVE

GROWTH OF VISITORS

TO SARAWAK LAST YEAR,

RECEIVING 231,498

MORE VISITOR

ARRIVALS COMPARED

TO 2018

Vision

Reinvigorating

tourism in Sarawak

Puan Sharzede Datu

Hj Salleh Askor

CEO – Sarawak Tourism Board

2020 is an encouraging year

for Sarawak Tourism Board

as we wet the Visit Sarawak

Campaign Phase Two into

action. We are satisfied with

the positive growth of visitors

to Sarawak last year, receiving

231,498 more visitor arrivals

compared to 2018 (2018:

4,430,921 & 2019: 4,662,419)

- a growth rate of +5.22%.

As part of this, we achieved

a significant rise in visitor

arrivals from the domestic

market, with a growth rate of

+11.3%. The Sarawak Tourism

Board is working on improving

our existing strategies and

plans. Having set the target

of five million visitor arrivals to

Sarawak, we are confident that

with the intensive marketing

and promotional campaigns

of Sarawak Tourism Board in

domestic markets and the

ASEAN region, this should be

achievable. We are working

on building collaboration with

airlines, enhancing our digital

platforms, and continuing

aggressive promotion and

marketing campaigns in all

our focus markets.

We are also seeking to grow the

long-haul market in addition

to the ASEAN market and

“border” tourism. As we know,

visitors from Europe, the USA,

and more locally, Australasia,

love our adventure offering,

our nature and culture, trying

the exotic food and having fun

at our festivals. One of the key

ways we’re developing the

long-haul market is through

a strong presence at major

trade shows around the world,

as well as through online and

print advertising.

Key issues and challenges

for us moving forward

are primarily based on

connectivity. We are working

hard to bring together

all industry players, from

Government, private and

public sectors. Moving into

this new decade, Sarawak

will, I am sure, see a major

transformation in terms of

air connectivity, and to this

end, we aim to encourage

more direct flight to Sarawak,

especially to the central

regions Sibu, Bintulu and

northern region, Miri. The

development of Sarawak’s

road networks will also be

an essential factor in the

development of tourism.

Digital marketing is also

becoming increasingly

important. We are

collaborating with industry

players to get more

involvement in digital

marketing, need to identify

the local operators, industry

players that are willing to

increase Digital marketing,

hence, moving to digital

footprint. Moreover the

Sarawak Government also has

a budget for digital marketing.

Our main pillars of Sarawak

as a tourist destination?

“CANFF”: Culture, Adventure,

Nature, Food and Festival

are the main pillars. All these

things combined make

Sarawak a destination that

is highly unique and can,

in themselves, help travel

professionals create an

unforgettable itinerary for

their clients

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 3


FACTS & FIGURES

© 2019 Rob Allyn / STB

Outdoor activities

are a big driver for

tourism in Sarawak

Facts & figures

Sarawak works to boost international tourism

2020 sees Sarawak heavily promoting its

destinations to overseas source markets as

part of the ongoing Visit Sarawak campaign,

coupled with Visit Malaysia 2020.

The past year has seen 5.2%

growth in inbound travellers

to Sarawak, from 2018 to

2019, with an overall total

of 4,662,419 visitors in the

year. Around 2 m of these

are foreigners. To get a better

grasp of Sarawak’s inbound

figures, it is important to

note that a large part of

the international figures

quoted concern visitors from

neighbouring countries –

Brunei (1,296,017 visitors in

2019), Indonesia (418,461 in

2019), and the Philippines

(63,238 in 2019). A number

of these visits may thus

have been visits to family

and friends, or occasional

business visits, rather than for

leisure tourism. Unlike many

other countries, Sarawak’s

tourism infrastructure has

gone from almost zero in the

1970s, to what it is today. In

1972, total tourist numbers

for the entire state were

54,223.

An interesting market for

Sarawak today is Singapore

(traditionally a major source

market for all of Malaysia).

From 2018-19, the number

of visitors from Singapore

jumped by 7% from 43,734

to 46,812. Australia, another

major source market for

Sarawak, saw growth of 3.9%

in visitor numbers in the year

to 2019, with a total of 16,881

inbound travellers.

Over the past year, visitor

numbers from key source

markets in Europe, such as

the UK, France and Germany

remained relatively static,

with a drop of around 4% in

German visitors balanced

out by a similar increase in

visitors from France, while UK

visitors, which by far make

FROM

2010 TO 2019,

OVERALL

INBOUND

TOURIST

ARRIVALS

GREW BY 42%

up the lion’s share of the

European market, remained

stable at 32,194 in 2019.

As figures tend to vary country

by country from one year to

another, it is interesting to

look at broader trends over

the past (almost) decade.

From 2010 to 2019, overall

inbound tourist arrivals grew

by 42%, primarily buoyed

by a growth in domestic

travellers visiting the state.

Over that time, there has

also been remarkable growth

in Indian visitors – from

16,533 to 26,791 – a rise of

62%. Singaporean visitor

numbers were up by 21%,

Germans +11.45% and most

interestingly, the biggest

growth for a European

country came from France

with a rise of 64% over the

nine years, from 3,856 in

2010 to 6,325 in 2019. For

its part, South Korea saw the

biggest growth over the nine

years from 2010 to last year,

up by 103% from 5,327 in

2010 to 10,820 in 2019. Major

growth has also come from

Taiwan, up 47.7% to 10,004

visitors from 2010 to 2019

4 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Datuk Abdul Karim

Rahman Hamzah

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture

cum Minister of Youth and Sport,

Sarawak

WE ARE

BUILDING

CONNECTIVITY

AND

ACCESSIBILITY

FOR WHAT

REMAINS FOR

MANY A TRULY

MYSTICAL

DESTINATION

Tourism - an essential pillar

of Sarawak’s economy

Exclusive interview: Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister of

Tourism, Arts and Culture cum Minister of Youth and Sport, Sarawak

According to the “regional satellite account”

of Sarawak 2018, tourism generated RM11bn

(€2.43bn) – 7.5% of Sarawak’s gross domestic

product. We asked Minister of Tourism, Arts,

Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim

Rahman Hamzah to tell us more.

In 2018, 240,000 people were

employed in Sarawak thanks

to the tourism industry: 19.1%

of Sarawak’s workforce.

Our focus is on culture,

adventure, nature, food &

festivals (CANFF). This also

means tourist attractions are

not only focused on urban

areas but are extended to

villages and rural areas. In

terms of road connectivity,

two projects will be completed

this year, in the areas of

Sibu and Kapit, opening up

new areas along the Rejang

River, where tourists will be

able to explore the exquisite

nature of these untouched

rural areas. Then there is

the Bintulu – Sungai Asap –

Belaga link. Sungai Asap is a

new settlement and Belaga is

a big town in the area.

How is tourism infrastructure

evolving?

Sarawak’s State government

supports the upgrading of

infrastructure such as the

Pan Borneo Highway, Coastal

Highway, museums and

sports arenas. We are also

dedicated to the upgrading

and development of the

internet in Sarawak to improve

connectivity for tourists,

developing the Sarawak Travel

Application. We are continuing

to build connectivity by

seeking to attract new airlines

and routes into Sarawak’s key

airports.

An unprecedented number

of new tourism projects are

opening in the coming months

and years. The 2 nd largest

Museum in Southeast Asia

will open in Kuching at the end

of 2020. Then there are the

Sarawak Culture Museums,

also in 2020; the Performing

Arts Centre – to be completed

within 2 years; the Santubong

Archaeological and Wildlife

Centre, the Beautification

of Pangkalan Sapi, the

upgrading of waterfront

facilities; construction of a

riverside walkway from Fort

Margherita to the Darul-

Hana Bridge; development of

museums in Limbang; Tusan

beach facilities; Sadong-

Jaya mangrove tourism – a

sanctuary for birds to migrate

from Indo-China, with the

gazetting of the area as a

National Park; at the Niah

Cave, there is extensive

upgrading of the walkway from

the river to the cave, along

with the addition of bungee

track and trails; and finally

upgrading of Bako National

Park and Semenggoh Nature

Reserve’s facilities.

What if your “message” to

travel professionals from

around the world?

Our tourism products are

very exotic for visitors from

Europe and also the Middle

East, because most have

never seen “nature in the raw”

such as what can be found

in Sarawak. We are building

connectivity and accessibility

for what remains for many a

truly mystical destination,

with the focus on our “big five”

- culture, adventure, nature,

food & festivals

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 5


TRADE TALK

Destination Sarawak

– as seen by travel professionals

Michael Metzner

CEO Tischler Reisen AG,

Germany

Gary Speldewinde

Director – Ecogreen Holidays,

Kuching, Sarawak

Philip Yong

Co-founder and Managing Director,

Borneo Adventure

OUTBOUND TO

SOUTHEAST ASIA

INBOUND TO SARAWAK

We are recognising a growing

trend towards individual quality

tours. Sustainability is becoming more

and more important. Also, tours

combining several different countries

or destinations are popular. An example

might be Singapore combined with a

nature and wildlife experience in

Sarawak/Borneo.

As a specialist for individual tailor-made

quality tours to Asia, Oriental countries

and Indian Ocean we are always

looking for untouched destinations off

the beaten track. Sarawak is truly one

of these natural gems and fits perfectly

in our portfolio. Private tours to the

National Parks including trekking tours

in the rainforest, wildlife observation

and experience of the great variety of

culture are just some of the highlights,

Sarawak has a lot to offer, and an

increasing number of our clients are

attracted to exploring the destination

every year.

Ecotourism is a major trend

today. People want to find

out more about the country, the

culture, the cuisine, and the

indigenous people; but to do this,

you need somebody in the field who

knows the ropes. We prefer to

organise tours where people

actually live in a village and stay with

the local inhabitants.

… We have just signed with a new

online portal in Europe: a site

launched at the end of February

2020. They focus on ethnic tribes

of different countries. With them,

we are developing tours of up to 12

days, learning about the lifestyle

of the local communities. There is

so much to learn that it would be

impossible to do so in one’s entire

lifetime, but with a tour like this,

people can really see a lot!

Sarawak exceeds expectations.

On the surface, we could

advertise about culture, nature and

adventure, but there is a whole lot

more than that. There’s food, there are

festivals, there is an incredible variety,

and the layering of so many things,

and that is a bonus. I think we do have

some stunning places. Kuching still

has a bit of an old city laid-back charm;

Mulu is spectacular… it always takes

my breath away.

There are a variety of things people

can do. For example, we can take

people to see Orangutans in the wild.

Not many people have done that. You

can see them in the zoo. But there

are probably less than ten thousand

people who have seen Orangutans in

their natural habitat in Sarawak. There

is something for everyone – families,

adventure travellers or couples.

6 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


CULTURE

Southeast Asia’s new

cultural highpoint

Malaysia’s biggest, most spectacular new

museum set to open in Kuching in 2020

It’s set to become the “shining star” of Malaysia’s, and indeed the

entire region’s cultural scene. Sarawak’s new state museum in

Kuching – Malaysia’s biggest, the second biggest in Southeast

Asia – will open to the public later this year.

The new museum and annexe are part

of the Sarawak Museum campus, which

also includes the old Sarawak Museum,

the Natural History Museum, and the Art

Museum.

The new 30,000 sq m building will ensure

that the Sarawak heritage, in the form of

a wide array of collections, is safely and

securely stored, preserved, documented,

researched and well exhibited,

according to the latest standards by the

International Council of Museums.

The new five-storey building will have

exhibition spaces on Levels 2 through 5,

on two wings flanking a central atrium.

Level 1 will house commercial lots, a café,

function rooms and auditorium spaces,

supporting and complementing the

exhibition gallery.

The main building is connected to a threestorey

annexe, housing the museum’s

offices, conservation and research

spaces, library and archives, while the

entire basement level is a dedicated

storage area.

The property has been under construction

since 2014, at a cost of around €70 m. It

is Malaysia’s first museum to be Green

Building Index (GBI) certified. Ecofriendly

building materials include timber

products certified by the Programme for

the Endorsement of Forest Certification

(PEFC) for the floors and interior wall

panels. Following the demolition of the

Dewan Tun Abdul Razak building to make

way for the new museum, conscious

efforts were also made to retain the

large trees on site and to preserve the

surrounding context as much as possible.

While the building was completed last

August, with an official hand-over

ceremony attended by Minister of

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah,

opening time is slated for later this year.

When complete, visitors will embark upon

an interactive journey through Sarawak’s

history, and the lifestyles of the state’s

numerous ethnic communities.

The Sarawak Museum had long been

hailed as one of the best in this part of

the world, with its old wing dating back

to 1891. The new building will serve as a

centre of learning, hosting international

scholars to collaborate with local

curators on documenting the material

knowledge of Borneo’s rich past, along

with its cultures, people and nature.

It aims to establish Sarawak as a new

global focal point for work in the field of

anthropology

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 7


CULTURE

© 2019 Rob Allyn / STB

Jonathan Rhys

Meyers in the

upcoming

White Rajah

White Rajah brought

back to life

The legendary “founding father” of Sarawak set

to hit the big screen in new Hollywood extravaganza

For many in the western world, the name

Sir James Brooke has little meaning. That’s

about to change, as a new Hollywood

blockbuster, filmed at the end of 2019, and

in post-production in early 2020, will soon

be hitting the world’s screens.

The movie, with the working

title “White Rajah”, tells the

story of how this former

British soldier, who sailed

to Borneo in 1839 in search

of adventure and fortune,

came to be known as the

White Rajah of Sarawak,

after helping the Sultan

of Brunei crush a pirate

rebellion.

The new film was produced

by Rob Allyn, directed

by Michael Haussman

and stars Jonathan Rhys

Meyers in the role of the

Rajah. Rhys Meyers is best

known for his roles in Match

Point, Mission: Impossible

III, and Tudors and Vikings.

Actor Dominic Monaghan,

who played the hobbit

Merry in the Lord of the

Rings trilogy, takes the

role of Colonel Arthur

Crookshank, Brooke’s

cousin and comrade-inarms.

The production was made

in cooperation with the

Brooke Heritage Trust,

supported with Malaysia’s

federal FIMI film rebate -

the first time the rebate has

been used to make a major

movie outside of Peninsular

Malaysia. Sarawak’s

Minister of Tourism, Arts,

Culture, Youth and Sports,

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman

Hamzah, has placed his

support behind the project,

saying he felt that the

fact the film showcases

many beautiful locations

in the state will arouse

great interest in travel to

Sarawak.

Shooting took place in the

rustic town of Siniawan,

the Fairy and Wind Caves in

Bau, Sarawak, the Sarawak

Cultural Village and Borneo

744.

Producer Rob Allyn says

he hopes his new film will

be ready in time to screen

at the 2020 Cannes Film

Festival in May

WHITE

RAJAH EPIC

ORIGINALLY

PLANNED

BY ERROL

FLYNN IN

1936

The successful filming of

this Hollywood epic comes

around 84 years after a first –

unsuccessful – bid to make a

film about the White Rajah, by

none other than Errol Flynn,

who was also to star in the film.

The film never came to fruition,

due to legal wrangling between

the would-be producers,

Warner Brothers, and Lady

Sylvia Brooke, the then Ranee

(Queen) of Sarawak over

“historical accuracy”.

8 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


CULTURE

The Antithesis

of British colonial rule

Sarawak Raj was a very “different” kind of

leadership

Sir James

Brooke

The White Rajahs ruled Sarawak from

1841 to 1946. The first ruler, subject of the

new Hollywood feature film, was Sir James

Brooke. As a reward for helping the Sultan

of Brunei fight piracy and insurgency

among the indigenous peoples, he was

granted the province of Sarawak in 1841,

as an independent Kingdom.

DELVING INTO HISTORY

AT FORT MARGHERITA

In Kuching, the very

prominent Fort Margherita

on the riverfront was built

by the second Rajah,

Charles Brooke. Designed

in the style of an English

castle in 1879, it protected

Kuching from pirate

attacks, and was named

after Charles Brookes’ wife

Margaret Alice Lili de Windt.

In 2016, having previously

housed the Police Museum,

it was transformed into

the “Brooke Gallery” –

showcasing the Brooke

dynasty

Brooke pursued a policy

of paternalism, with

the goal of protecting

the indigenous peoples

– the Iban and other

Dayak tribes – from

capitalist exploitation.

He installed laws banning

slavery, headhunting and

piracy.

After James Brooke laid

much of the groundwork

for the expansion of

Sarawak, his nephew

Charles, the second

Rajah, was the “great

builder”. He constructed

public buildings, such as

a hospital, in addition to

forts, as well as extending

the borders of the state.

Vyner Brooke, the son

of Charles, instituted

significant political

reforms. He ended

the absolute rule of

the Rajah in 1941,

before the Japanese

invasion during World War

II, by granting new powers

to the parliament.

The Brooke family still

maintains strong ties to

the state and its people

and are represented

by the Brooke Trust, and

by Anthony Brooke’s

grandson Jason Desmond

Anthony Brooke, at

many state functions

and supporting heritage

projects.

The Brookes’ architectural

legacy can still be seen

throughout Sarawak

Fort Margherita (centre),

with the State Assembly (right)

ANOTHER REMINDER

OF THE BROOKE LEGACY:

FORT ALICE, SRI AMAN

Fort Alice, built in 1864

in the coastal town of Sri

Aman, around 200km

north of Kuching, was given

the second name of the

Rajah’s wife. After years of

loving restoration, it

was opened to the

public in 2015, and

won the gold award

for conservation in

Malaysia’s Institute

of Architects’ 2017

Awards. The gallery

inside shows the

history of the fort itself, the

small town of Sri Aman as

well as the tense contention

between the Iban people

and the British soldiers of

the Brooke era

Fort Alice,

Sri Aman

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 9


CULTURE

The real thing:

an Iban longhouse

at Batang Ai

Up close and

personal with

Sarawak’s

diverse

cultural roots

The Sarawak Cultural

Village, a stone’s throw from

Kuching, is so authentic

that it was used as a set for

the upcoming Hollywood

blockbuster, the White

Rajah. The village is a living

museum: ideal for a halfday

visit. The diversity of

Sarawak’s tribes is simply

extraordinary.

“If you take the example

of the Orang Ulu, they are

divided into 26 different

sub-groups, each of which

doesn’t speak a different

dialect, but speaks a

whole different language”,

explains Gary Speldewinde

– Director – Ecogreen

Holidays, Kuching, Sarawak.

The Cultural Village’s

buildings represent every

Penan

blowpipe

demonstration

at the Sarawak

Cultural Village

major ethnic group in

Sarawak; namely the

Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu,

Penan, Melanau, Malay &

Chinese. Upon entering

each building, after

witnessing a traditional

welcome ceremony, visitors

find members of the

ethnic groups in traditional

costume carrying out

traditional activities and

taking time to pose for a

photo or two. At the Penan

hut, visitors also have the

opportunity to witness the

art of blowpipe making.

They can also try their hand

at blowpipe shooting with

the Penans, the last of the

hunters and gatherers –

forest nomads

While the Sarawak cultural

village is exceptional,

nothing beats the real

thing. A few hours’ drive

outside Kuching, one

arrives at Batang Ai dam

– the shores of which are

home to a number of Iban

people living in traditional

longhouses, leading simple

lives.

The biggest community –

the Mengkak longhouse

– has 38 families, totalling

around 200 people. The

community is around 45

minutes’ boat ride from the

nearest resort or road.

Visiting this place, one

instantly understands that

these people are, on the

one hand, quite reserved,

and on the other, are very

hospitable. Their traditional

rituals, dances, foods,

and costumes continue

to intrigue and fascinate

visitors and researchers

from around the world.

The longhouse is made

up of a large communal

living space, called the

ruai, flanked on the outside

by a terrace, and on the

other by individual rooms

– each housing a family.

The ruai is the place

where the longhouse folk

gather for a chat or carry

out their days’ activities.

Here, one eats with the

Iban, seated on the floor,

savouring local fare, after

tasting the home-made

rice wine and (gulp) rice

‘whisky’.

These are the direct

descendants of the Iban

head-hunters, whose

images from yesteryear

fuelled the curiosity of so

many in the past. Apart

from the head-hunting,

little else has changed.

It is truly an immersive

experience

A traditional dance in

the Mengkak longhouse

10 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


I ADVENTURE I NATURE

Penan woman, selling

handicrafts at Batu

Bungan village (Mulu)

Tourism

as a cause

for good

As often stated by the

former Secretary-General

of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai,

tourism can and should be

a force for good. In Sarawak,

this is very much the case,

as every person who visits

Sarawak’s national parks

and protected areas and

pays fees contributes to

the upkeep of these fragile

forests – much of them

pristine primary growth –

and protects the unique

wildlife that lives within

them.

Some local tour operators

also offer the chance for

visitors to become involved in

reforestation initiatives. Park

buffer zones are extremely

important in increasing the

available habitat for wildlife,

so by extending the forest

cover this further helps

in protecting the wildlife.

Huge steps are being made

across the state to conserve

and manage Sarawak’s

valuable and unique

forests. In addition to some

800,000 hectares of Totally

Protected Areas (TPAs)

that are off-limit to logging

companies, large areas of

land classed as “terrain

4” (steep and hilly) areas,

“High Conservation Value

Forests”, buffer zones and

verified “Native Customary

Rights” land remain pristine.

The declared initiative by

the state government to

pursue responsible tourism

underpins the importance

of other moves that had

already been initiated by the

state authorities to protect

forests and wildlife

Upgraded

infrastructure for

Bako National Park

With foreign tourist numbers to

Bako National Park growing by

an average of around 15% every

year for the past three years, the

Sarawak Forestry Corporation

has been working on adding

to and refurbishing facilities for

visitors, including the opening

of a new camping ground. The

Bako Boat Terminal was also

temporary closed for renovation

and upgrade by the Sarawak River

Board from 15 April 2019 through

February 2020.

Bako is said by many to be

the best place in Sarawak for

wildlife experiences. It is home

to approximately 150 rare

proboscis monkeys, found only

in Borneo. The park has been

a protected area since 1957, so

animals are less wary of humans.

Visitors, especially those who

stay overnight, have countless

opportunities to observe and

photograph various types of

wildlife. Long-tailed macaques,

silvered leaf-monkeys, common

water monitors, plantain squirrels,

wild boar and mouse deer are also

found here.

The largest mammal found at

Bako is the Bornean Bearded

Pig. As its name implies, it is

distinguished from other wild

pigs by prominent bristles either

side of its snout. Bearded pigs are

often found around the park HQ

scavenging for food or wallowing

in mud

Proboscis

Monkey in

Bako National

Park

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 11


ADVENTURE I NATURE I

Orang-utan in

Semenggoh park

New role for Semenggoh

Until recently known as an orangutan “rescue centre”

the status has now changed to “nature reserve”

For over 20 years, the wardens at Semenggoh Nature Reserve

had been training young orangutans, orphaned or rescued

from captivity, on how to survive in the wild. The success of

this programme has left the surrounding forest reserve with

a thriving population of healthy adolescent and young adult

orangutans, who are now breeding in the wild.

The rescue programme has thus been

transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre,

leaving Semenggoh Nature Reserve as

a comfortable home to its successful

graduates, semi-wild orangutans and

their babies.

These majestic animals – our closest

“cousins” in terms of DNA, once kept

illegally as pets, are trained on how

to fend for themselves before being

released into the forest. Over the years, a

number of orangutans have been trained

and released and now form a semi-wild

colony in the reserve. As regular as

clockwork, they swing down from the

trees for a free handout of fruit. If it is

the fruiting season in the forest, some or

even all of them may not come to feed.

This in itself is a good sign and another

step on the way to full rehabilitation.

MATANG TAKES OVER

AS MAIN RESCUE CENTRE

Matang Wildlife Centre is to be found at

the western corner of the Kubah National

Park, about 40 minutes’ drive from

Kuching. The centre’s 180 hectares

of lowland forest provides natural

surroundings for orangutans and other

local fauna. Matang is a dedicated

centre where endangered species, such

as orangutans, are rehabilitated and

released into the forest. While they are

being educated, they remain at the centre,

enabling visitors to get close to animals

they might not spot in days of wandering

the jungle. (Please note that wildlife

sighting activities in Matang Wildlife

Centre will be temporarily ceased from

1 st January 2020 until 30 th June 2020 (6

months) in order to facilitate repair and

maintenance works on the infrastructure.)

WORK HANDS-ON TO SAVE

ORANGUTANS? YES, YOU

CAN!

Foreign visitors to Sarawak are

able to volunteer to work with an

orangutan conservation programme.

With Orangutan Project Sdn Bhd,

a conservation company offering

alternative solutions and sustainable

funding opportunities for the endangered

wildlife on Borneo, visitors can give

“hands-on” help in their quest to save

the Red Apes of Borneo, with monthly

departures to Batang Ai National Park

12 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


I ADVENTURE I NATURE

© 2019 Paradesa

Cycling

Borneo

Trans-Borneo

Road Bike

KAYAKING

SARAWAK -

PADDLING

IN

PARADISE

For great photo

opportunities (with a

waterproof camera),

kayaking on Sarawak’s

Semadang River is a

must.

Semadang Kayak is the premier

kayaking, bamboo rafting

and adventure outfitter and

service provider operating on

the Sarawak River (Semadang

River) at the Heart of Borneo’s

Rainforest a short drive from

Kuching, Sarawak.

“Trans-Borneo Road Bike” has

been launched by Kuchingbased

adventure tour operator

Paradesa* as a two-week

adventure through the wilds of

this incredible island.

Visitors cycle a total of 1,370 kilometres on

paved roads along the South China

Sea and beaches, through mangrove

forests and plantations, stunning

landscapes and peaceful villages before

taking on some challenging climbs to

truly appreciate the natural splendour

of Borneo. Accommodation varies

from beachside / mountain resorts to

international city hotels, and even a local

homestay.

The itinerary covers two countries,

8 international crossings and 1,370

kilometres in 12 cycling days, with

enthusiasts cycling end-to-end,

travelling East to West from the state

of Sarawak, finishing in style in Sabah,

crossing through the Sultanate of Brunei

along the way.

Highlights include encountering the

hospitality of the multi-ethnic peoples

of Borneo, exploring remote national

parks of Sarawak for wildlife spotting,

and being among the first to boast riding

across Borneo.

Those who like cycling, but perhaps

not to the point of crossing the entire

island, will find an eclectic range of

other possibilities, with a number of

short cycling itineraries, including “Best

of Kuching: Heritage and Kampong

Bike Tour”, “Sunset Kampong Ride with

Hawker Food”, “A bite of Borneo by Bike”,

and “Kuching Bike and Cook”.

*Winner of 7th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism

Award 2015/2016: - Outstanding

Destination Management Company -

Special Recognition: Emerging DMC

Award

With various package choices,

the local operator takes visitors

on the “kayaking and rafting

trip of their life”. The trip is a

family friendly and suitable for

beginners, including a short

“training” session at the start of

the activity. Lunch is included

in a small village along the way.

The organisers themselves take

photos of the intrepid kayakers,

sent to them by email just after

their visit

Semadang

Kayak

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 13


ADVENTURE I NATURE I

Celebrating 20 years World Heritage status

Mulu underlines legacy from the past, being lived today, set to be

passed-on to future generations

In November 2020, Mulu National Park

celebrates the 20 th anniversary of its being

named one of only 20 World Heritage sites

in the world that qualify for a total of four

key world heritage criteria. Mulu boasts

superlative beauty – mountains, combined

with huge river systems, a tropical

rainforest and huge caves. The earth’s

history and geo features are evident in the

gigantic caves and the Pinnacles. Visitors

appreciate the biodiversity and ecological

processes when adventure trekking or just

strolling along the botany trails.

© 2018 Jorg Sundermann

Melinau river sunset

at Mulu Marriott Resort

Deer Cave, Mulu

National Park

“REVEALED” IN THE 1970’S

The mystery and magic

of Borneo has lured the

cream of the scientific

world since it was first

discovered. In 1978,

the Royal Geographical

Society launched one

of the biggest multidisciplinary

expeditions

to Mulu. Prior to this, the

Sarawak Government,

recognising the special

qualities of Mulu, had

gazetted it a National Park

in 1974. The magic caught

on in 2000, and Mulu

was declared an iconic

UNESCO World Heritage

Area, and at 55,000

hectares, also the state’s

biggest National Park.

Gunung Mulu National

Park is now the most

intensively studied area

of tropical karst in the

world. Dominated by

Gunung Mulu, a 2,377m

sandstone pinnacle

(the second highest

mountain in Sarawak),

the area is exceptionally

scenic, with rainforestcovered

mountains,

wild rivers in deeplyincised

canyons, sheer

limestone pinnacles, long

underground passages

and immense caves.

CAVES: THE WORLD’S BIGGEST

In terms of total volume, Mulu

boasts having the biggest cave

system in the world. At least 295

km of explored caves include

the Sarawak Chamber - the

largest known cave chamber

in the world at 600 m by 415 m

and 80 m high. With a volume

of 12 million cubic meters and

an unsupported roof span of

300 m, this chamber dwarfs

any other large chamber so

far discovered. Deer Cave at

120 to 150 m in diameter is

the largest cave passage in the

world known at the present

time and the Clearwater

Cave System holds the world

record as the longest cave in

Asia at 110 km of mapped and

explored passages. The caves

show classic underground

geomorphological features

which reveal an evolutionary

history of more than 1.5 million

years.

Both above and below ground

the Park has a wide range of

endemic animals and plants in

seventeen vegetation zones.

The caves house millions

of swiftlets and bats and

provide outstanding scientific

opportunities to study the

origins of cave fauna.

14 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


I ADVENTURE I NATURE

MEETING THE LOCALS

– ORANG ULU, THE UPRIVER PEOPLE

From the river-based Berawan tribes of

Long Terawan to the now settling Penan

in the villages of Batu Bungan and Long

Iman: these are the Mulu locals and

they play an integral part in the affairs

of Mulu National Park. These villages

are also made accessible for tourists

to visit, specifically to enjoy the local

handicraft market and of course to try

their hand at the weapon of choice –

the blowpipe! The workforce of the Park

consists of 96% locals and all are proud

Sarawakians.

River at Mulu

GUNUNG MULU

NATIONAL PARK

– PROTECTING

HERITAGE

FOR FUTURE

GENERATIONS

A recent study (2017) by the IUCN

World Heritage Outlook resulted in a

“good” status, with the IUCN stating,

“The combination of the remoteness

(no public road access), rugged

terrain, legislative basis of protection,

existence and implementation of

an Integrated Development and

Management Plan, 5-year plan, very

effective professional management

and dependence of a valuable

tourism industry on the park augurs

well contributing to ongoing effective

protection and management.”

According to the UNESCO World

Heritage Committee, “GMNP

provides outstanding scientific

opportunities to study theories on

the origins of cave faunas. With its

deeply-incised canyons, wild rivers,

rainforest-covered mountains,

spectacular limestone pinnacles,

cave passages and decorations,

Mulu has outstanding scenic values.

GMNP also provides significant

natural habitat for a wide range of

plant and animal diversity both above

and below ground. It is botanicallyrich

in species and high in endemism,

including one of the richest sites in

the world for palm species.”

HIGHLY TRAINED GUIDES

When a guide leads a group into

the Mulu caves he or she is not only

an interpreter, allowing people to

understand the nature, but they also

act like rangers, ensuring the visitors

keep their litter, and do not harm the

environment.

The park itself employs around 20

guides and there are a number of

freelance guides working permanently

with travel agencies, bringing the total

to 60 guides.

CANOPY WALK

At 480 metres in total length and

built in 2007, Mulu has the longest

tree-based walkway in the world.

Here, guides help visitors better

understand the flora and fauna

of the tropical forest.

Mulu canopy

walkway

Jeffrey Simun,

Operation Manager,

and Bian Rumei,

Tourism Services

Manager, Borsamulu –

Mulu National Park

“Guides have to attend a course

which is run by the Sarawak Forestry

Corporation for 21 days, and Borsamulu

runs a course which lasts around 10

days, very specific on the park product,”

explains Jeffrey Simun, Operation

Manager, Borsamulu – Mulu National

Park. “They learn about the geology of

the caves, the flora the fauna, and then

they have to attend an exam. Only once

they pass the exam can they obtain a

license.”

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 15


CULTURE I ADVENTURE I NATURE I FOOD I FESTIVALS I

Penghulu

Robertson,

village chief

of Bario

Bario – the land of a hundred

handshakes

A little-known remote inland region that “ticks-off

all the boxes”

Penghulu Robertson, village

chief of Bario (pronounced

Bariew), holds out his hand to

strangers at the tiny aerodrome

as the passengers prepare to

board a MAS Wings Twin Otter

back to the coast – one of two

flights a day. The airport is the

main entry point for all travellers,

unless they are keen on taking a

12-14 hour slipping-and-sliding

bone-shaking 4-wheel drive

epic from Miri on the coast.

“How have you enjoyed this place?”,

the chief inquires, with a warm,

genuine smile. And of course, the

handshake. If Bario is described by

those who have visited as the “land

of a hundred handshakes”, it is not

without reason. In a day, the visitor will

shake dozens of hands, be greeted

with an equal number of smiles,

and will be treated to a broad range

of local “bush caught and grown”

dishes. This place thus singularly

“ticks off all the boxes” of Sarawak

Tourism Board’s promotional themes

of culture, adventure, nature, food

and festivals.

In past years, a large number of

research projects around the world

have pointed to the fact that savvy

travellers more and more are looking

for what could be termed “immersive”

experiences, where they meld into

a local community, becoming as

one with its people, rather than just

being observers. Bario, through its

remoteness, and the fact there are

no hotels – just longhouses – puts

one fairly and squarely in the picture

as part of the local experience. Added

to this is the fact that the “official”

welcome ceremony for visitors by

the Kelabit people involves the visitor

participating, albeit awkwardly, with

an occasional giggle, in dance and

games with the locals. It means one

is not an observer, but is accepted as

a friend or “part of the family”.

Lying at an altitude of over 1,100m, in

the north-eastern corner of Sarawak,

Bario, once known as the “most

remote village in the British Empire”,

is home to the Kelabit people, one

of the minority Orang Ulu tribes of

Sarawak (formerly fierce headhunters),

and its name means “wind”

in their language.

16 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


I CULTURE I ADVENTURE I NATURE I FOOD I FESTIVALS

It is the starting point for a

number of treks throughout the

area (for virtually all fitness

levels). One can also go kayaking

or be immersed in the mystical

tales of the megaliths that

dot the area. For the really

adventurous, Bario is either

the starting or the ending point

of the arduous 5 day /4 night

Bario-Ba’kelalan jungle trekking

adventure.

“What would you say makes

Bario different?”, I asked the

chief.

“Of course, there is the Bario rice,

then there is the pineapple. It

grows all over Borneo, but it’s not

as sweet as in Bario. Maybe it’s

because of the climate, or maybe

the altitude. Another thing that

is different here is the weather,

which is much cooler than on the

coast,” he replies.

Batu Ritang

Megalith

THE

MEGALITHS

OF THE BARIO

HIGHLANDS

The region is dotted with massive

man-made stone structures

known as megaliths. Perhaps the

best known is the Ritong stone, or

Batu Ritong, at Pa Lungan, a little

under an hour by 4-wheel-drive

from Bario town. It is thought to

be a burial ground for a Kelabit

nobleman named Ritong dating

from hundreds of years ago. The

site was excavated in 1962 by

British soldier Tom Harrison, and

originally, the structure was standing

straight upright. However, over the

years, Batu Ritong has tilted, and is

now at a 45° angle

It’s hard to pin down a single

“selling point” for this place.

Perhaps the key differentiator is

the fact that there are so many

points – all important.

The homestays provide lodging

and full board, with meals quite

often consisting of organic

Bario highland rice, wild boar

or venison, and jungle plants,

topped off with local pineapple.

All organic of course

Sunset over the Bario

countryside

PESTA NUKENEN

AN ETHNIC “SLOW FOOD” FESTIVAL

UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Founded in 2005, the Bario Food and

Cultural Festival, or “Pesta Nukenen” is

one of the most exceptional ethnic food

festivals in Malaysia.

The three-day annual Nukenen

Festival, generally held in the month

of July, celebrates the unique food,

farming, forest and cultural heritage

of the Bario Highlands, with visitors

enjoying delicious organic food cooked by

the various longhouse communities of the

Kelabit Highlands.

As space is very limited on flights to Bario,

it is recommended to organise visits to

Bario well ahead of time via local DMCs

who are able to coordinate transport and

accommodation

Preparing “Nubag

Layag” during Pesta

Nukenen

Local dishes include “Nubag Layag” –

sticky Bario rice wrapped in a leaf called

an “Isit”. Even up until today, this is the

standard food local farmers carry with

them as snacks when working in the fields.

Another “must have” is the “Pucuk Ubek”,

a fine concoction of pounded tapioca

leaves. And don’t miss the “Urum Ubek”,

or glutinous rice fritters.

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 17


FESTIVALS

Rainforest World

Music festival is a

high energy event

SARAWAK – home to

countless festivals

There’s a whole range of festivals in Sarawak

throughout the year. Here are just a few…

PESTA BABULANG

(BUFFALO RACE FESTIVAL)

Dates: 5 – 7 June 2020

NEW! - RAINFOREST

IN THE CITY

Dates: 30 June – 9 July 2020

RAINFOREST WORLD

MUSIC FESTIVAL 2020

Dates: 10 – 12 July 2020

Steeped in tradition, this cultural

festival - the biggest in Limbang

(northern Sarawak), includes the

quintessential buffalo race. Another

highlight is the “Ratu Babulang”

or “Babulang Queen” contest,

which sees young Bisaya ladies in

traditional costumes display in their

most mesmerising mannerisms

in a bid to win the title crown.

Pesta Babulang also showcases

traditional Bisaya costumes, culture

performances, exotic native food

and other unique activities. (Bisaya

is one of indigenous people in

north-west and coast line of Borneo,

mostly living in Limbang and Lawas

district)

Rainforest in the City aims to enhance

the buzz, highlighting the on-going

campaign of Visit Sarawak Year 2020

by spotlighting events at The Heroes

Monument Park in the Kuching city

centre - for tourists and festival-goers.

Its intention is to expose the Culture,

Adventure, Nature and the Food &

Festivals that Sarawak has to offer in

“snippets” with modern audio, lights and

technologies to experience in the city by

night over 10 days. This festival consists

of 3 main components, namely light

exhibition, audio visual performances

and food experiences. Combinations of

all these three elements will be the main

feature of this year’s event and hopefully

the years to come.

The Rainforest World Music

Festival (often abbreviated as RWMF)

is an annual three-day music festival

celebrating the diversity of world music,

held in Kuching, with daytime music

workshops, cultural displays, craft

displays, food stalls, and main-stage

evening concerts.

The festival features a wide range of

performances from traditional music, to

world fusion and contemporary world

music.

For its 23rd edition, the Rainforest World

Music Festival this year will be featuring 8

stages, 9 mini session venues throughout

the Sarawak Cultural Village. 45 bands

will deliver over 70 performances

including 33 mini sessions.

18 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


FESTIVALS

RWMF FRINGE FESTIVAL

Dates: 3 – 15 July 2020

The RWMF Fringe is an annual festival

of visual, performing and lifestyle arts

from Borneo and around the world to

complement the iconic Rainforest World

Music Festival. It also aims to bring the best

of the mainstream contemporary, traditional

as well as engaging experimental works to

local and also visiting audiences.

Expect to see genres such as Theatre,

Photography, Indigenous Film, Marketplace,

Cuisine, Spoken Word, Arts & Crafts, Fashion

and more at the RWMF Fringe. All RWMF

Fringe events are staged at exciting venues

within 2-kilometres of Kuching city centre

as The Rainforest World Music Festival is

held at the Sarawak Cultural Village & Damai

Central on the coastal enclave of Santubong,

37 kilometres from the city.

Most RWMF Fringe events are staged free of

charge on a “first come first served” basis.

BORNEO CULTURAL

FESTIVAL – SIBU

Dates: 16 – 25 July 2020

Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) is

a week-long celebration of food,

music and dances that celebrate

the unique yet diverse cultural

background such as Indigenous

people (Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu,

Malay/Melanau and Chinese). The

festival highlights the richness of

culture and heritage in Borneo to

the world, including its multiracial

beliefs and practices with holding

the main object by promoting

“Beauty in Ethnic Diversity”.

BCF is Sibu’s biggest tourism

event, it is also a perfect time to

mingle all the locals from walks

of life by participating in fringe

events such as trade shows, fun

fair and stage shows.

SARAWAK

INTERNATIONAL

DRAGON BOAT

FESTIVAL

Dates: 23 – 25 October 2020

The Sarawak International

Dragon Boat Regatta is an

internationally-recognised

event, where local and foreign

teams compete in various race

categories to win cash money

and trophies. This challenge

is an affiliate event of the

International Dragon Boat

Federation (IDBF).

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 19


MICE

The Borneo

Convention Centre

Kuching

MICE in Sarawak

Borneo Convention Centre Kuching plans

major upgrade in 2020

The spectacular Borneo Convention Centre Kuching plans on

carrying out major upgrades this year, introducing state of the

art audio-visual technology to its repertoire.

News of the upgrade comes as a new

report by Talk2 Media & Events has

underlined the importance of face-toface

meetings, revealing that 93% of

business event delegates find human

interaction and connections important

across business events, with 48%

declaring them to be critical. In view

of this information, BCCK is working

on continuing to expand its global

presence by hosting more and more

international and prestigious events, as

well as expanding physically as a venue

to facilitate more and larger events in the

future.

BCCK was the first purpose-built venue

in Sarawak, designed to host a myriad

of events from large conferences and

exhibitions to smaller meetings within

one venue. It first opened its doors in

2009 and has since hosted over 1,800

events and over 2.4 million delegates and

visitors.

Located 8 km from Kuching’s city

centre, the BCCK is located on

a 6-hectare riverfront site. The

centre’s environmentally conscious

design was inspired by the surrounding

rainforest. A major element - when viewed

from the outside - is the roof structure.

Creative architectural solutions for

function and form of this element were

found in nature. The Centre’s roof is

shaped in the form of a “Ririk” leaf.

“Ririk” grows in abundance in Sarawak,

and due to its large leaves, it is used by

many indigenous tribes for wrapping rice

and food.

The building has a gross floor area

of 36,500 square metres and the

internal design offers complete

flexibility with functional spaces able to

be subdivided into a variety of sizes and

configurations for plenary sessions,

exhibitions and banquets.

In the field of MICE, as organisations

around the world seek to be more

innovative and compete more and more

on creativity, BCCK approached the

question of innovation from a totally

unique perspective: a space created amid

the tranquillity of the tropical rainforest

where any distractions that could take

focus away from simply being innovative

are kept at a distance.

Being secluded however does not mean

disconnection. The centre is equipped

with the latest in communication

technologies with wireless internet

enveloping the whole area, cutting ledge

LAN infrastructure and, from this year,

even more modern AV technology

A FEW KEY EVENTS

FOR 2020:

July:

Men’s Health World Congress

(MHWC) 2020

July:

6 th World Engineering, Science and

Technology Congress (ESTCON) 2020

August:

18 th International Conference on Clean

Energy (ICCE 2020)

November:

AFSM Tripartite Conference 2020

20 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


TRANSPORT & INFRASTRUCTURE

Taxi boat

approaching the

new Golden Bridge

with State Assembly

in background

Despite the completion of

the spectacular Golden

Bridge, the new highlight

of Kuching’s riverfront in

2017, Sarawak’s “perahu

tambang” or river taxis,

remain very much the icon

of the Sarawak River; a relic

of the past; still very much

part of the city’s daily life.

Over two centuries, since the first

White Rajah, Sir James Brooke, set

up an early settlement combining

two populated Malay Kampungs —

Boyan and Surabaya — on the left

bank of the river as his administrative

centre, this part of the river figured

prominently in the life of the city,

contributing to the birth of downtown

Kuching.

Today, the new 335m S-shaped

bridge is a key tourist attraction,

connecting the south bank’s highly

popular waterfront walkway (main

bazaar and golden triangle) to

the north bank, where the State

Legislative Assembly building, the

historic Fort Margherita, and Astana

residence are to be found.

The Sarawak River -

life blood of Kuching

“Perahu tambang” still the icons

of the picturesque waterway

Sungai Bedil Besar, it is still much

quicker to take a boat - only two to

three minutes, while pedestrians

wishing to use the bridge will have

to walk for 15-20 minutes. Some

boatmen eat and sleep on their

boats during the week… so don’t be

surprised to see a blanket or two

rucked under the stern. According

to Jeman, most boat men work one

week on and three weeks off – in

rotation with others – while they

work in on farms the remainder of

the month.

To fully tap the river’s tourist potential,

the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB)

recently endorsed a masterplan to

further develop river transport along

a 24km zone between Batu Kawa

and the Borneo Convention Centre

Kuching (BCCK).

A river cruise on

the MV Equatorial

CRUISING

THE RIVER

For those wishing to visit Kuching at a

leisurely pace – viewed from the river,

cruising aboard the “Sarawak River

Cruise” on the MV Equatorial gives a

different perspective of the historic city.

The cruise takes visitors past historical

landmarks such as the Kuching

Waterfront, Square Tower (formerly a

prison), a multi-purpose market, the old

State Mosque with five onion-shaped

domes, a Malay house on stilts and

the Satok Suspension Bridge before

heading the other side of the river to

see the Astana (former palace of the

White Rajahs), Fort Margherita (now a

police museum) and a fishing village

“My job still keeps me busy”, said Pak

cik Jeman (Jeman the boatman),

who prefers to row his passengers

across the river than to use the

motor. Generally running a boat from

the jetty at Jalan Gambir to Kampung

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 21


TRANSPORT & INFRASTRUCTURE

Ongoing

roadworks flank

original road

on Pan Borneo

Highway project

– here near Sri

Aman

Royal Brunei Airlines

introduces flights to

Kuching and Sibu in

Sarawak

The new Royal

Brunei routes

A new transport backbone

– the Pan Borneo Highway

Travel by road across the vast state of Sarawak continues

to be a long journey – up to 19 hours from Sematan to Miri

currently on a tarred, but often rough two-lane road.

Royal Brunei Airlines has launched

services to Sarawak with flights to

Kuching and Sibu as part of its new “RB

Link” services.

To accelerate the socio-economic

growth of Sabah and Sarawak, a major

effort to fully develop and upgrade

the Pan Borneo Highway into a fourlane

dual carriageway was announced

by Malaysia’s Prime Minister in April

2013. But the origins of a planned trunk

road connecting the expansive states

of Sarawak and Sabah, with Brunei in

between, date back to the 1960s when

it was known as the Trans-Borneo

Highway. Construction works began

in 2015, and now almost half the works

have been accomplished throughout

the state.

When completed in the coming

years, the future toll-free Pan Borneo

Highway Sarawak from Telok Melano

to Merapok is expected to span a total

distance of 1,060 km. It will become

THE transportation backbone of the

states of Sabah and Sarawak and

will play a major role in opening-up

economic corridors and opportunities

in areas it traverses.

Pavement works – at some stretches,

new 2-lane single carriageway are

already taking shape. These will

be progressively opened to traffic,

to enable construction works to

concentrate on the next two-lane

single carriageway

“We are very pleased to be able to expand

our footprint in Sarawak with two new

destinations, Kuching and Sibu through

our brand-new innovative product, RB

Link. This allows for more trade and

tourism opportunities between the

cities, and also provides residents from

Kuching and Sibu with greater travel

choices to any of our exciting cities

within the RB global network,” said Ai

Ling, RB’s Senior Vice President of Sales.

Flights to and from Sibu began on 14

November 2019

KUCHING LAUNCHES NEW

HYDROGEN-POWERED BUS

SERVICE

The new zero

emission

hydrogen bus

in Kuching

Sarawak’s highly anticipated

zero emission hydrogen

bus service was launched in

January 2020, operating on

two routes with stops near

various attractions in the city.

The pilot project has begun

with two buses – one operating

the Downtown Heritage

Loop and the other on the

much longer Damai Loop.

The service is a joint effort of

the State Transport Ministry

and Sarawak Economic

Development Corporation

(SEDC) to promote a reliable,

affordable, safe and ecofriendly

public transportation

system in Sarawak

22 SMART GUIDE www.sarawaktourism.com


From

Penang

From

Kuala Lumpur

Kota Kinabalu

SABAH

From

Johor Bahru

Miri

Brunei

Mulu

From

Ponanak,

Indonesia

From

Singapore

Sibu

Bintulu

SARAWAK

Kuching

THAILAND

ADAM

AND NICOBAR

ISLANDS (INDIA)

CAMBODIA

VIETNAM

PHILIPPINES

MALAYSIA

BRUNEI

SARAWAK

SINGAPORE

INDONESIA

SABAH

BANDAR

SERI BEGAWAN

MIRI

Miri-Sibuti

Reef

Sibuti

Lawas

LIMBANG

BRUNEI

Nanga Medamit

Marudi

Beluru Mulu

Ba Kelalan

Bario

Sematan

Lundu

Matu

Siburan

Bau

KOTA

BETONG

SAMARAHAN

Pulau Bruit

Daro

Belaga

Selangau

SIBU

Song

Damai

Kabong SARIKEI

KAPIT

Kanowit

Santubong

Talang Satang Island

Pusa

KUCHING

Sebuyau

SERIAN

SRI AMAN

MUKAH

Lubuk Antu

BINTULU

Tatau

Sebauh

Bukit Mabong

Sg. Asap

www.sarawaktourism.com

SMART GUIDE 23


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