KUCHING: As Malaysia further develops the area of sustainable tourism, it could take a leaf out of Hawaii’s book in terms of its application of a sustainable certification programme in the tourism industry.

Dr Linda J. Cox, a community economic development specialist at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, revealed that Hawaii’s sustainable certification programme educates operators and stakeholders on best management practices (BMPs) for natural and cultural resources.

She pointed out Hawaii’s approach of mass tourism in earlier decades which was now shifting towards a more sustainable strategy.

Sustainable tourism management plans are not one-size-fits-all – as each place is intrinsically unique, management plans vary and are specialised for each location.

“You need to develop what is best for your place,” she stated during her talk titled ‘What is Sustainable Tourism and Case Study in Hawaii’ held at the Sarawak Multimedia Authority Kuching Creative Heritage Hub here, yesterday.

Seated from fifth to seventh left: Azam board member Dominic Chuo, Cox, Azam member Dr Margaret Chan, and Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer of the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur Sarah Talalay (seventh right) with participants of the talk.

“Even in Hawaii itself, we offer many different types of tours such as hiking tours, snorkelling tours, zip line tours, and more. BMPs are specialised for each of these tours as well,” explained Cox, adding that best practices were being drafted for more areas in Hawaii such as whale-
watching and bike attractions.

According to Cox, there should be constant revision, assessment and improvements as progress is made with regard to management plans, initiating action to counter any negative effects.

Additionally, areas of responsibility held by businesses, residents and tourists need to be clearly outlined in order for all parties to come together in support of sustainable tourism.

She emphasised that parties should be engaged and educated on their role in maintaining the environment and way of life.

“In sustainable tourism, we want to make sure that we respect the culture and environment of the area, the economy and traditional way of life, and the political patterns.

“It also involves planning and managing tourism with regard for the protection of the natural environment for future generations,” Cox remarked.

She noted that the younger generation is usually very passionate towards sustainability and thus likely to be more receptive towards the concept of sustainable tourism.

“The road to sustainability is a very long journey – but we are all in this together,” she said.

The talk was organised by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak and the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur.