KUCHING: The tourism sector in Sarawak can rebound better and stronger with the right safeguards and responsible measures in place.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, in saying this, stressed that therefore it was time to rethink, transform and safely restart tourism after so many livelihoods and plans were in jeopardy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
For Sarawak, he said one of the many recovery measures in Sarawak was the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 launched by the Chief Minister in July this year.
“It is an important milestone to chart the way forward for Sarawak to become a developed state by 2030. Seven strategic thrusts are outlined to accelerate the economic development and tourism is pinpointed as one of the six economic sectors and main engines of growth.
“In particular, Sarawak aspires to be a leading destination for eco-tourism and business events driven by empowered communities to conserve heritage, culture and biodiversity.
“We also endeavour to promote investment and development in the tourism sector. We aspire to transform Sarawak into a tourism destination driven by data and innovation and we are also determined to do it responsibly through sustainable approaches, such as providing economic opportunities for the rural communities,” he said during the World Tourism Day 2021: Sarawak Commitment to Responsible Tourism event themed “Tourism for Inclusive Growth” at Imperial Hotel Kuching yesterday (Sept 27).
Abdul Karim added that the tourism industry had to stay connected and have a strong will to cooperate in order to survive the pandemic and emerge stronger.
“In the last one and a half years, I have seen many innovative and collective efforts by our fellow Sarawakians.
“This includes moving events to virtual platforms, such as the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) and International Conference on Responsible Tourism and Hospitality (ICRTH), which attracted thousands of international participants, demonstrating what we can achieve when we put our minds together,” he said.
The minister said promoting domestic and rural tourism via Sia Sitok packages was another initiative that exhibited its resilience to uncertainty and resolve to build tourism better.
“When the border is closed to international visitors, Sarawak continues to sustain domestic tourism through our Sia Sitok Campaign which besides offering discounted tourism packages to the locals and helping local tourism business to a certain extent during this difficult time,” he said.
Abdul Karim added that in the last 18 months since the first movement control was enforced in Malaysia in March last year, his ministry had not stopped working with the government agencies, tourism bodies, practitioners and scholars to restart the state’s tourism activities in a responsible and sustainable manner.
“Taking Sarawak a step closer to being added into the Unesco Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in gastronomy and also Niah National Park in the Unesco World Heritage are important milestones for Sarawak to prove our commitment to preserve our culture and heritage.
Although the result had not been released yet, he applauded the efforts by the stakeholders, including government agencies and non-governmental organisations, to drive Sarawak towards a sustainable and inclusive destination and boost the tourism industry of the state.
“In fact, there are also many tourism initiatives and activities conducted by universities and associations despite the present challenges. I have attended many of them and every time I left with satisfaction, optimism and hope.
“Thus, as the travel and tourism activities begin to resume in stages, I am sure that we will reap our rewards together,” he said.