STB Chairman Dennis Ngau (left) and ATS Executive Director Mohd Shahrom Mabol exchanging the MOA for the Kuching Umrah Gateway (KUG) initiative.
KUCHING (Oct 8): Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has launched the Kuching Umrah Gateway (KUG) initiative in a collaborative effort with ATS Global Travel Charter Sdn Bhd that will establish flight connectivity between the Middle East and Sarawak.This initiative will provide direct flights to Jeddah and Medina from the Southeast Asia region.
It is aimed at boosting Sarawak’s tourism industry by opening up new markets and position Kuching as a stopover point for ‘umrah’ travellers including those from the nearby regions such as Kalimantan, Brunei and southern Philippines with a Muslim population of over 30 million.
A memorandum of agreement (MoA) was signed recently between STB and ATS Global Travel & Charter, witnessed by Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, its permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, and ATS Global Travel & Charter chairman Dato A. Aziz Ahmad.
“We are confident that with Kuching being an Umrah hub, it will enhance Sarawak’s tourism industry by creating more job opportunities, increasing tourist spending and benefitting eatery outlets and retail sector.
“Other sectors to also benefit from this initiative include hotels, homestays, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transport services.
“With a projection of over 230,000 visitor arrivals within six years through KUG, I believe it is an urgent call for Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) to look into expanding Kuching International Airport to meet the growing demand of visitors’ traffic,” said Abdul Karim.
Meanwhile, Aziz said ATS was happy to support in bringing the vision of the Sarawak government to turn Kuching as an Umrah gateway hub that will attract more visitor arrivals to Sarawak.
“Sarawak offers a lot of potential new tourism products to be showcased to the world,” he said.
The special charter flight is expected to commence sometime in December and the feeder flights will be arranged by ATS from Pontianak, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Samarinda, Ujung Padang (Makassar), Jakarta and Mindanao to support the main line operations of the Umrah flight carriers
Visitors under the KUG initiative will also be able to enjoy a variety of pre- and post-Umrah tour packages specially curated to cater to the interests and needs of the new passengers.
The pre or post tours will be arranged together with the Umrah flights and will be made available via a dedicated platform on .
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