Benchmarking system benefits all industries, not only tourism


KUCHING: Sarawak’s initiative of participating in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) for business events and tourism is a first for Malaysia, making the state one of the 75 progressive destinations in the world to undertake this project.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the GDS-Index was a measurement tool to assess how sustainable Sarawak is for business events and tourism on a global scale.

“It is part of the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) for tourism, where we aim to make Sarawak a leading destination for ecotourism and business events by 2030.”

He said this when officiating at the launch of the GDS-Index Partnership Programme – Sarawak Region (GDSI-Sarawak Partner)  here on Wednesday (Aug 11), which marked Sarawak’s participation in the GDS-Index for business events and tourism.

Noting that Kuching city had been chosen as the pilot project for Sarawak, he said the GDS-Index would not be a short-term commitment as plans involved expanding this to other cities such as Sibu, Miri, and other major towns over time.

He said the GDS-Index here was initiated by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak in collaboration with Business Events Sarawak and Sarawak Tourism Board, adding that the Index was fully aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Criteria.

“The Index benefits more than just business events and tourism. It will support every industry in Sarawak to adopt best practices of sustainability to make Sarawak sustainable for visitors and a place for all of us to live in.

“A proven and trusted system such as this will give us the necessary information and tools to help us make better decisions, improve business strategies, foster collaboration and innovation, and promote Sarawak on a higher scale that is lucrative in today’s world.”

For business events and tourism, the move towards a sustainable future would drive Sarawak’s visibility and brand around the world.

“It will give us the power to create strong destination stories and position Sarawak as a potential role model for other second-tier destinations to implement a similar action.”

He noted that based on observation and trends, business events planners, delegates, and leisure tourists were placing greater importance on the destination’s sustainable approaches. “The same applies to investors so we must take note and take action before we fall behind.”

Under the GDS-Index, he said Sarawak would be assessed based on 71 indicators across four key areas, namely environmental performance, social progress performance, destination supplier performance, and destination management performance.

He expressed his gratitude to the 30 committee members of GDSI-Sarawak Partner, a collaboration of multiple government ministries and agencies, associations, and industry partners to champion Sarawak’s sustainable future via data consolidation, stakeholder engagements, and communication.

“To date, we are in the process of data consolidation and expect the performance results to be released by the end of October, if not sooner.

“Bi-annual check-ins will be held to compile results, recommendations, and update policies that encourage a pledge of commitment from all involved parties and stakeholders.”

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