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KUANTAN: "This is Pahang 2022-Unlimited" has been picked as the state's new tourism theme as part of a strategy to revive the industry which targets to attract eight million visitors this year. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said after experiencing a drop in tourists following the Covid-19 pandemic, the fresh initiative will help steer the state's tourism goal to emerge as a top destination in the post-pandemic era. "The target is domestic tourists as the arrivals of international visitors might be a little slow....we hope to attract between seven and eight million visitors this year and if we can achieve 10 million visitors in 2022 then that is commendable. Although some destinations in Janda Baik (Bentong) and Temerloh are still closed due to the floods, other popular destinations including Taman Negara (Jerantut) and Cameron Highlands are open.

"Pahang achieved seven million visitors in 2020 before recording a drop to a million last year largely due to the movement control order and pandemic outbreak. The government has implemented several measures to curb the outbreak and we hope this will boost visitors' confidence to travel to Pahang," he told reporters after the "This is Pahang 2022 - Unlimited" launching ceremony at a hotel here last night. The Regent of Pahang, Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah had earlier launched the ceremony before presenting tourism awards to 111 individuals consisting industry players, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, tour operators and agencies. Also present was Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail. Meanwhile, Sharkar said he was informed by Tourism Pahang that hotel reservations at popular destinations in Pahang which were spared by the recent floods have been booked up till April this year.  "This is a good early sign that the industry is recovering and the state will continue with its promotions to draw people here. Instead of only focusing on the existing destinations, we will promote new activities and potential destinations.

"Unlike previous years, Menteri Besar (Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail) had announced a huge budget amounting RM8.4 million for the tourism sector when tabling the state's 2022 Budget last year. This will certainly help with the promotional activities to revive the tourism industry across Pahang to get back on track," he said, adding Pahang was awarded as the best domestic tourism destination by the Malaysia Tourism Council last year. Meanwhile, Sharkar said two new programmes - Pahang Ocean Canoe International Challenge and Pahang Hiking Week - will be making their debuts in the tourism calendar this year. "The multi-day canoe ocean race will see participants travelling about 240km from the Chendor beach in Cherating (Terengganu border) to Pantai Hiburan in Rompin (Johor border). Technical experts are looking into the event as we will comply with international standards...it will be held in the second half of the year.

"The Pahang Hiking week will help promote recreational hiking spots in Pahang and it will be held simultaneously in several districts. Aspiring hikers will be provided with a list of hiking spots which they are comfortable to climb as this programme aims to help encourage a healthy lifestyle," he said.In his speech earlier Sharkar said the word "Unlimited" or "tiada had" in Malay which is used in the new theme carries the meaning that Pahang is fortunate for having a wide variety of attractions, ranging from highlands to forest, beaches and islands.