Abang Jo: Sarawak is all for “responsible tourism”

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26: As proponent of “The Cape Town Declaration”, Sarawak will focus on “responsible tourism” to ensure the viability and sustainability of the industry, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said responsible tourism is all about making tourist destinations better places for people to live in and for people to visit.

Responsible tourism focuses on what people, businesses and governments do to maximise the positive economic, social and environmental impacts from tourism as it is all about identifying issues locally and addressing it transparently.

“We in Sarawak recognise with the world that responsible tourism takes a variety of forms and is characterised by travel and tourism which minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts; generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry.

‘It should also involve local people in decisions that affect their lives and life changes; makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity.

“And it should provide more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues; provide access for people with disabilities and the disadvantaged; is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence,” said Abang Johari at the opening dinner for delegates of the ‘World Tourism Conference 2019’ held at leading hotel here tonight.

He added that Sarawak’s policy to focus on responsible tourism will ensure that the industry would be sustainable to benefit all the stakeholders.

“Responsible tourism is exciting. It is very experiential and caring to our local hosts and to our environment. With people as the heart of responsible tourism, we give back to ensure sustainability of the industry for the years to come,” he said.

On Sarawak, the Chief Minister said it is well-known for its flora and fauna in it many well-known national parks such as Bako National Park, Niah National Park and the world-renowned Mulu National Park which has been a UNESCO Heritage site since 2000.

“Our nature-based and landscape tourism calls for respect for conservation and for the future generation. Our culture tourism calls for the creation of benefits for hosts and when our hosts are happy, our guests leaves with fond memories. These are hopes and aspiration in our quest to develop our tourism industry in Sarawak.

“I would sincerely hope that your deliberation in this conference will show us the way forward in our continuous effort to enhance tourism as a sustainable generator of economy in our respective countries.

“Understanding the nature of our tourism setting, our product portfolios and fragile ecosystem, it is only logical that we choose to pursue responsible tourism, to set in the equilibriums, satisfying the visitors and also our local hosts and the State of Sarawak as a whole,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister revealed that, last year Sarawak received some 4,430,921 visitors generating some RM7.95 billion for the State’s coffer.

“This year, we have set high targets of 5 million visitor arrivals which will strictly be based on the International Satellite Accounting figures. While we are very selective in our visitors’ segments, we target niche interests and we focus particularly on eco-travellers based on our product profile that centres around culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals.— DayakDaily