Sharzede Datuk Salleh Askor

KUCHING: Tourism players should be more gung-ho, innovative and willing to make full use of available opportunities in order to boost the industry.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor opined that some players in the private sector were not proactive enough.

“They tend to depend on the state government to take action. Do not talk about funding all the time. Talk about what you want to create and how to be innovative and work differently,” she said in an exclusive interview at STB office here today.

She said that the Covid-19 situation might go on for quite some time, so industry players simply could not conduct business as usual anymore and would instead have to change – whether they liked it or not.

She emphasised that it was all about one’s mindset.

“I hope they will be more gung-ho. That is why we are encouraging them to be on the digital platform. They need to get onboard and improve the quality of their platform,” she said, noting that it was not only the tourism industry which was suffering.

She also urged industry players to take the initiative and apply for the Sia Sitok Sarawak programme, expressing surprise as she had thought most players would have jumped at the opportunity.

“We still have funds available for a few companies to participate. We hope that whenever we have such initiatives, the players are as excited as we are,” said Sharzede.

She also stressed on the importance of working together and pooling resources to ensure that tourism industry players would be able to survive this difficult period, adding that the benefits would be even greater if this was done together as opposed to working in silos.

“I believe the pie will be even bigger if we all work together,” she said.

Using the example of city tours, she said, “We have so many city tours, why can’t we have a city tour consortium? In this way, those involved will really work together as one and everyone can benefit.”

At the same time, she expressed hope that tourism industry players would be able to endure this period so that once Sarawak’s doors were opened, there would be numerous tourism players available to welcome visitors to the state.

“That is when the whole industry will thrive further – not only in the hands of a few people. If we still have everyone intact, the benefits would be greater and the multiplier effect will be even more,” said Sharzede.