KUCHING: Tourism players have been told to prioritise the development and sustainability of Sarawak’s unique destinations and eco-tourism products now that the state has joined the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index).
Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said it is a benchmarking system that will rank Sarawak’s business events and tourism sustainability performance.
By 2030, Sarawak’s Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) for tourism aims to transform the state into one of the top locations for ecotourism and sustainable business events and the index is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Destination Criteria, he said.
In his address delivered by Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting during the TTLx Summit conference here on Tuesday (Sept 20) Karim said what sets Sarawak apart from other travel destinations are ecotourism goods and services that are uniquely Sarawakian experiences.
“We need to promote our products as premier products, targeting high-value tourists, and the post-pandemic conscious travellers who are seeking invaluable experiences.
“We must ensure that we meet the criteria of sustainable and responsible tourism, by making extra effort in creating value around our vast unspoiled jungles, natural waterways, forest habitats and our friendly local communities,” he said.
He also said that the index will assist every industry in Sarawak in adopting best sustainability practices, which will greatly benefit the state.
Sarawak is now a part of the GDSI for Business Events and Tourism Partnership programme (GDSI-Sarawak Partner), he added, which comprises 30 committee members consisting of local government, ministries and agencies, academia, associations and industry partners.
“The four focuses of GDS-Index key areas are environmental performance, social progress performance, destination supplier performance, and destination management performance.”
The two day conference from Sept 20 to 21 will focus on discussing trends and new tourism prospects that can be adapted for Sarawak.
Also present were the Ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia Raden Sigit Witjaksono, chief executive officer of Place Borneo Sdn Bhd Mona Manap and its director Gracie Geikie, general manager of Business Events Sarawak (Business Development and Marketing) Jason Tan and co-founder of Centre for Asia Leadership Samuel Hungsoo Kim.