KUCHING – Sarawak has decided to allow tourists from China to enter the state through the Miri Airport and the Immigration, Customs, Quarantine, and Security (ICQS) facility in Sungai Tujuh bordering to Brunei, using the Special Entry Pass with immediate effect.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg said as Sarawak is actively promoting incoming tourists from China, entry passes to the state should be issued at all ICQS for their convenience.
However, he said with Kuching currently being the only entry point to Sarawak equipped with the Visa-On-Arrival facility for tourists from China, the state government was seeking the federal government’s cooperation to allow all ICQS in the state to issue entry passes to enter Sarawak, as such move would benefit both the federal and the state governments.
He pointed out that Section 5 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155) provides the power to the Minister, by way of notification in the Official Gazette, to approve routes and declare such immigration control posts, airports or point of entry, which the Minister thinks necessary.
“In this regard, Sarawak Tourism Ministry had written to the Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, on this matter, but as of today, there has yet to be any reply,” he told a press conference at his office here today.
“Sarawak is firmly of the view that the Director of Sarawak Immigration Department has the authority to issue the Entry Passes under Part VII of the Immigration Act 1959/63, under the direction of the State Authority which is the sole authority in regard to entry into or remaining in, or residing in the State of Sarawak,” said Abang Johari, who is also Sarawak Tourism Minister.
“Thus, we use this authority to allow tourist to come into Sarawak via Miri (airport) and Sungai Tujuh (ICQS), based of what we call Entry Pass for Tourist,” he said.
The deputy chief minister said the move was also aimed at taking advantage of Brunei’s campaign to lure more tourists from China, so that they would also visit Sarawak.
He said according to Tourism Malaysia, 1.5 million tourists from China spent an average of RM3,335 per person, bringing the total to some RM5 billion from the tourists from China recorded between January and November last year.
To a question, Abang Johari said Sarawak was expected to see the arrivals of approximately 10 chartered flights from China within the last two months this year and with the growing demand, there was a possibility that it would become scheduled chartered flights’ in the near future. – BERNAMA