Sustainability vital for tourism, travel

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, holding the orang utan plush toy, being accompanied by the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee (left) at the official launch of the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDSI-Index) Partnership Programme – Sarawak Region at a hotel in Kuching. Sarawak’s participation in the programme is a first in Malaysia, making it one of the 75 destinations in the world under the project. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: Sustainability is a deciding factor for tourists before they visit or attend a business event at a certain destination, said Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MTAC) permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.

If Sarawak can prove to others that it is serious in sustainable development, that is a form of branding in itself,” he added

Hii said this when responding to a question at the launch of the Global Destination Sustainability Index Partnership Programme – Sarawak Region (GDSI-Sarawak Partner) at Imperial Hotel here today (Wednesday).

The event marked Sarawak’s participation in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) for business events and tourism.

Hii pointed out that under the GDS-Index, there were about 70 other first-tier or second-tier destinations.

“If Sarawak can prove that it is on par with other countries in its sustainable development strategy, I believe this will be a pull factor,” he said.

Hii pointed out that the state government had implemented many initiatives with sustainability in mind, including the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 which had three main pillars – economic prosperity, inclusive society and sustainable development.

Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) chief executive officer (CEO), Amelia Roziman echoed Hii’s views and said the sustainable performance was a factor that affected international and national delegates’ decisions to visit Sarawak for business events.

“So when the skies reopen, Sarawak will not just be ready for hosting business events and adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) but be responsible towards the environment, too,” she said.

Meanwhile, from a tourism destination perspective, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor said it had been statistically shown that visitors preferred a clean environment and a more sustainable concept.

“It is already proven. It has been stated in a lot of studies that people prefer to go to an area that practises sustainability,” she said.

She believed Sarawak and MTAC were moving in the right direction in bringing the state to a different level concerning sustainability.

“We are moving along with the future trends,” she said.

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