Over 3,000 households educated on sustainable tourism

Karim Rahman Hamzah. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: As part of its efforts to create a sustainable tourism industry, over the last two years, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has engaged with 3,177 households from 23 homestays across Sarawak on sustainable waste management and soap-making.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said from these workshops, local communities running these homestays learned how to recycle and reuse waste materials, thus giving homestay owners a sense of responsibility and pride in maintaining their homestays and being part of an increasingly relevant ecotourism industry.

“In addition, with a majority of the participants of these workshops belonging to the B40 women category between the ages of 16 to 70, these expanded skill sets have also given them an opportunity to improve their livelihood.

“On top of running their homestays, women from the community can produce their own soaps and sell them as an additional side income.”

He said the soap-making workshops also, most importantly, provided villagers and rural homeowners with means to create their own hygiene products – a vital addition to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said this when officially launching the Responsible Tourism Webinar organised by STB in partnership with Sarawak Centre of Performance Excellence (SCOPE) here today.

He emphasised that practising responsible tourism not only provided enriching experiences for visitors, but also the capacity to enrich the lives of the local communities and the environment.

Abdul Karim said that as early as 2011, STB had taken various steps to create a sustainable tourism industry.

“These greening efforts were ramped up in 2019 with their Responsible Tourism Programme, which highlights on three United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – Quality Education, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Partnerships for the Goals.”

He pointed out that these greening initiatives were deployed during the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2019, where sustainable practices such as water refill stations, a sustainable procurement and waste management strategy, and others were integrated into many aspects of the festival – thereby enriching the experience for locals and visitors alike.

“Through its efforts to reduce carbon emissions as well as promote upcycling, the RWMF became more than just an international music event; it became an opportunity to teach members of the public and corporate bodies how to inculcate sustainable practices into our everyday lives.”

He said yet another level to STB’s greening initiatives was engaging with members of the public to be changemakers in their community through the Volunteer and Green Ambassadors initiative.

Also present were Deputy State Secretary (Performance and Service Delivery Transformation) Datuk Dr Sabariah Putit; Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee; STB chairman Dennis Ngau; STB CEO Sharzede Salleh Askor; and SCOPE CEO Dr Asleena Helmi.