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Sarawak is favourite Malaysian Borneo destination for 2023

Kuching emerged most popular division among domestic tourist

Sarawak has emerged the top and favourite Malaysian Borneo destination in Malaysia. The region not only recorded the highest number of domestic tourist, but also came in third in Malaysia behind heavyweights like Selangor and Kuala Lumpur which are both main gateways to Malaysia.

Aaccording to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), Selangor emerged as the most visited state in 2023, attracting 27.6 million domestic visitors, followed by W.P. Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak, welcoming 22.2 million and 17.9 million domestic visitors, respectively.

The department also noted that the number of domestic tourists visiting Johor witnessed a substantial increase of 42.7 per cent compared to the previous year at 6.25 million tourists.

Sabah vs Sarawak domestic tourist arrivals

Interestingly, Sarawak had also managed to out-do neighbours Sabah in terms of domestic tourist as the favourite Malaysian Borneo destination since 2021, with Sabah gaining more domestic tourist prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sabah has always been seen as the more popular choice for tourist when it comes to tourism due to it’s favourable airport connectivity better allocation for tourism promotion.

This time around however, Sabah seems to be slightly lagging behind Sarawak in domestic tourist demand, especially since borders started to fully open after the pandemic.

Regardless, the numbers Sabah is recording hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels where the region used to welcome a maximum of 22 million domestic tourist as compared to Sarawak’s maksimum peak of 19.7 million domestic tourist.

You can see the number of domestic tourist arrivals (x1000) from 2016 to 2023 in the chart below.

Top tourist source and tourist destinations

The bulk of Sarawak’s domestic tourist come from Sarawak itself, with those from Kuala Lumpur , and neighbouring Sabah make up the second and third largest domestic tourist, respectively.

The massive support among Sarawakians for local travel may be attributed to the success of Sarawak Tourism Board’s Sia Sitok Campaign which offers massive discounts for Sarawakians wanting to visit and stay in local tourist attractions.  You can read about the Sia Sitok Campaign here.

In addition, Sarawak also were very aggresive in events last year with events like the Rainforest World Music FestivalKuching FestivalSarawak RegattaBorneo Sonic Music Festival, Borneo Jazz, Boderland Music Festival, the Countdown party and more.

The chart below to shows the number of tourists visiting each Malaysian destination in 2023.

The report by DOSM also detailed that tourist flocked five divisions in Sarawak with Kuching being the top, followed by Sibu, Miri, Bintulu and Sri Aman.

It also detailed that the five major destinations in Sarawak are Daesco Star Mega Mall in Sibu, followed by Pasar Sentral Sibu, The Spring Mall Bintulu, AEON MALL Kuching Central and Vivacity Megamall Kuching.

You can read the whole report in here.


Cyril Dason

Cyril Dason was born and currently lives in Kuching. He loves jungle trekking, clean rivers and chilling out with friends.

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