Malaysia State Promotes Haze-Free
Nov. 25, 1997
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ A Malaysian state known for its beach resorts, golf courses and wildlife will soon advertise haze-free holidays to woo tourists who canceled trips because of the thick smog.
The Sarawak Tourist Board will distribute pamphlets and stickers proclaiming ``Sarawak No Haze! All Clear In Paradise,'' state Tourism Minister James Masing was quoted today as saying by Bernama, the national news agency.
Last year, 800,000 foreign tourists visited this southeastern state, which earned $165 million in tourism, he said.
But forest fires that have been burning for months in neighboring Indonesia have blanketing much of Southeast Asia with smog, causing health, environmental and other problems and driving tourists away.
Tour operators and hotels lost $4.2 million in cancellations between September and December, Masing said.
When the air over Sarawak became unbreathable because of the haze, the tourist board posted messages on the Internet advising travelers to postpone their holidays.
``Our information has helped to instill confidence on our potential visitors that we are honest in our approach and accurate in our information,'' he said.
Sarawak's northern coast is dotted with beach resorts, golf courses and wildlife sanctuaries.
Heavy rains in Indonesia and Malaysia have helped rid the area of the haze, which eclipsed clear skies for nearly four months. But the fires have not been extinguished, and the threat of a recurring haze still remains.