Borneo Countries Push For Common Visa

Plan Promotes Island Tourism

Foreigners visiting Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia will only have to apply for a single visa if an agreement could be reached between the three countries on the framework. Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said he had discussed the matter with his counterpart from Brunei when the latter was here recently and there shall be a follow-up discussion in Miri.

“Officially, we are discussing with Brunei. We have asked Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz to discuss with his counterpart from Indonesia.

Sulawesi sunset

“Meaning that if the visitors have visa issued by any of the countries, they are able to travel in these three countries – Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia,” he told a press conference after attending a dinner with the business community in the state and airline operators from China and Hong Kong on Sunday.

Abang Johari said within the context of BIMP-Eaga and Malindo, the state government will hold talks with Kalimantan provincial governments once the Indonesian government had given the green light to the framework.

“For immigration purpose, we can initiate it and then work together with Tourism Ministry and Home Ministry on that and perhaps the Foreign Affairs Ministry. There is actually a framework now to work together.”

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He noted that so far in the Asean region, only Thailand and Cambodia had reached an agreement for a single visa to visit the two countries.

In a related development, Abang Johari spoke of a new trend in the tourism sector towards adventure and nature, rather than the beach.

“Last time it was the sun and beach but now they (tourists) want something challenging and adventurous. Somebody commented to me why don’t we have flying fox to be done here in Kuching and I said wait until we got all the facilities.”

Based on the feedback he got from a tourism industry player from Hong Kong, he said many young people there prefer to go for adventures.

“For them, there is a catchment of 100 million people along the Pearl River. These are some of the young people who want to experience adventure and we can try to formulate a certain package in order to cater for these people, including for the expatriates working in Hong Kong.”

boat travel across Borneo

Abang Johari said he would visit Hong Kong and China at the end of April to aggressively promote Sarawak to the two states, adding that he believed that the state could reach out to the market there with the support of stakeholders in the two areas.

“I must admit, our promotion effort previously was not that great. We were a little lacking in terms of promotion. This time around, we have to be aggressive.”

In terms of the shopping patterns among Sarawakians, Abang Johari said he noticed nowadays that many of them liked to visit Hong Kong to spend their weekends and go to Guangzhou for shopping.

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