This will be the fifth time that a Routes event has taken place in Malaysia. In 2003, the first Routes Asia event, also the first ever Routes regional event, was held in Sepang, hosted by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, who went on to host Routes Asia for the following two years and World Routes 2008 in Kuala Lumpur. Since these early days, Routes Asia has gone from strength to strength welcoming 672 delegates in Chengdu earlier this year.
Sarawak, known as the Land of the Hornbills, is the largest of the Malaysian states and is situated on the island of Borneo. Home to the world's oldest tropical rainforests it is abundant in wildlife including rare and endangered species such as the orangutan and the hornbill. The historic capital city of Kuching has a population of around 600,000 and dates back hundreds of years when traders from China and the West would travel there to trade the exotic treasures of the rainforest. Today, Kuching remains the central hub and gateway to Sarawak.
“We are delighted that Routes Asia will be in Sarawak in 2014," said David Stroud, Executive Vice President, UBM Aviation Routes, continuing, “Our regional events began in Malaysia almost 10 years ago, and once again the passion and commitment of the airport and stakeholders impressed our selection team. Sarawak, though, will offer delegates an experience like no other, a real 'once in a lifetime' location unlike any place we have ever held a Routes event; a stunning choice for the 12th Routes Asia event."
Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad, Managing Director of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, commented: “We are delighted and honored that Routes Asia will once again reach the shores of Malaysia in 2014 but this time to the majestic and enthralling city of Kuching, Sarawak. Malaysia Airports looks forward to partner[ing] with the State of Sarawak in ensuring a greatly successful forum, which will be productive and fondly remembered by all delegates."
Minister of Tourism Sarawak, the Honorable Datuk Amar Zohari, said: “Routes coming into Sarawak for the first time will mean a great tourism boost, as it will gives us the opportunity to showcase our unique attractions to the aviation and tourism industry and above all to tell the world that Kuching, Sarawak, is capable and ever-ready of holding any big congress of any nature that otherwise was not known to many."
Air transport to Sarawak is served by four major airports; Kuching International Airport, Sibu, Bintulu, and Miri Airports, and as the region has frequent air links from major aviation hubs, Kuching is one of the most accessible cities in Malaysia. Flights to Kuching are available from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which is served by more than 50 carriers, Singapore and Jakarta, among others.
Sarawak received 3.8 million visitors in 2011 - a number which it anticipates will increase in 2012. This promises potential new business opportunities, jobs, and, above all, route potential.