Sarawak joins GDS-Index


KUCHING: Sarawak has joined the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) for business events and tourism through the launch of the GDS-Index Partnership Programme – Sarawak Region (GDSI-Sarawak Partner).

Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) chief executive officer Amelia Roziman explained that GDS-Index was a benchmarking system that ranked how sustainable destinations are for tourism and business events.

She said the Index involved 71 criteria focused on four key areas – environmental performance, social progress performance, destination supplier performance, and destination management performance.

“It has a membership of over 70 destinations on five continents,” she said, listing a few such as Copenhagen, Zurich, Sydney, Japan, and Korea.

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

At the programme, she elaborated on the four benchmarking categories and methodology.

“The first assessment is for city social progress performance, where there are 11 questions to indicate the performance of the city. Areas that are assessed will touch on integration with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), corruption, social inclusiveness, and so on.

“The second assessment is destination management performance, with 30 questions to indicate how committed BESarawak and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) are in terms of sustainability. These will include questions such as the maturity of Sarawak’s sustainability strategy, leadership, and others.”

Amelia said the third assessment on destination supplier performance involved 13 questions addressing the sustainability commitment and performance of the local meetings’ industry supply chain, including airports, event agencies, hotels, venues, and restaurants.

“The fourth assessment is on city environmental performance, with 17 questions including a city’s performance about its policies and infrastructure, such as climate change commitment, carbon emissions, renewable energies, resource and water management, public transport, and air pollution levels.”

She said the total number of questions were based on the 71 qualitative and quantitative criteria put together by Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDS-M), which was in line with the UN SDGs and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Criteria. 

“GDS-Index for Sarawak is in line with the direction of the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030.”

She said after holding discussions with GDS-M, they had decided to benchmark Sarawak phase by phase, with Kuching being the pilot city to be assessed this year, followed by Miri next year, Sibu in 2023, and eventually other towns in the state.

“Sarawak’s first submission for the Index will be on Aug 15 for one year. It will be exciting to see where we stand in 2021’s ranking.”

Although Amelia said it was unlikely that Sarawak will be among the Top 10 in the ranking, she believed that the state would improve year by year as this was a long-term project.

“GDS-Index is about making consistent improvements to achieve our goal of being a developed destination for sustainability by 2030.”

On GDSI-Sarawak Partner, she said this programme served as a state-level task force committee, with 30 members from state ministries and agencies, associations, academia, and the industry.

GDSI-Sarawak Partner’s patron is Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who officiated at the launch, whereas its chairman is Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.

The two task leaders are Amelia and STB chief executive officer (CEO) Sharzede Salleh Askor.

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