CM: Environmental conservation vital for tourism in Sarawak

Abang Johari strikes the gong to launch the conference. At left is Khalid.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Dec 6: Sustainable tourism is the future of the industry in Sarawak, but its success will depend on the commitment of hospitality industry stakeholders in conserving the environment.

Hence, industry players must be prepared to change their mindset as the state needs people who care about the flora and fauna and also culture and heritage to ensure they are protected at all times, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“To create sustainable development in the tourism industry, we must get the right people in the hospitality industry. People who care for the environment can interact and understand the human psychology. They are friendly but firm in their decisions.

“They must be able to prove themselves capable of putting environmental sustainability above all aspects in tourism development,” he said when opening the inaugural QS Summit on Hospitality and Tourism organised by UCSI University here on Wednesday.

At the dinner, the university also launched its Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Kuching to champion four initiatives under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, namely quality education, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities as well as life on land.

The summit, themed ‘The way forward: Hospitality and Tourism Education Convergence with Industry 4.0’, is organised to address the economic impacts of technology advancement on the hospitality sector.

Abang Johari also cited the importance of balancing conservation with sustainability and that tourism and hospitality go hand-in-hand to modernise the economy.

Last year, the state recorded 4.86 million visitor arrivals with total spending of RM8.59 billion. This accounted for 7.9 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This year, the state hopes to record 5.25 million visitors.

Abang Johari puts his signature on a placard to commemorate UCSI’s RCE conferment. At left is Khalid.

To boost the tourism industry, Abang Johari said his administration encouraged collaborations between the corporate sector, government agencies and sophisticated thought leaders to explore new opportunities.

The state government had also given due attention to improving air, land and cyber connectivity.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari lauded UCSI Sarawak campus’ recent RCE conferment by the United Nations University.

He said it was important for an institution to emphasise on empowering education towards creating sustainable development that encompasses every aspect of life for a peaceful and prosperous environment.

UCSI vice-chancellor Senior Prof Datuk Dr Khalid Yusoff said the university had taken the lead to invigorate the tourism industry in the country by producing quality manpower.

He added that the university was committed to playing a substantial role in the rapid development of Sarawak and enhancing the upskilling of the people through education and training. — DayakDaily