Five Asean countries to attend Digital Tourism Forum 2018 here next week

Abdul Karim (centre) speaks to reporters flanked by ACEA vice-president Michael Liong (left) and State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture planning and development section principal assistant secretary Desmond Douglas Jerukan (right).

KUCHING, Mac 1: Delegates representing tourism industry players from several Asean member countries as well as Australia and China will converge in the state next week to participate in the Digital Tourism Forum 2018.

The event is organised by the Asean-China Entrepreneur‘s Association (ACEA) in collaboration with local organisations and the state government.

To be held at Pullman Hotel on March 9 starting at 8.30am, among the Asean member countries, tourism players and delegates from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand will be discussing and sharing a strategic tourism partnership with Sarawak to enhance tourism packages between each country.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah told a press conference this morning that the forum will see discussion as well as exchanges of information between participating countries on ways they can improve their respective tourism industries by working together through strategic partnerships.

“These countries are developed or developing, and in terms of their economic strength, many of their people can afford to travel overseas. So we need to promote Sarawak as one of their destinations.

“Apart from that we are also inviting them to exchange ideas on how we can improve our tourism sector. It is going to be something like a joint friendly effort — you promote your countries to us, we promote Sarawak to you,” he said.

Just like countries in Europe where tourists would go on a tour crossing the borders of European countries, Asean members could work together and provide the same kind of tour packages to visitors, said Abdul Karim.

“We (Asean countries) will be seen as one region. Probably in the future, tourists coming to South East Asia will look at us as one region, just like in Europe. One day you are in Italy, then you can take a train to Germany, Paris, Austria, and so on.

“Mobility is improving, and communication and air connectivity between Asean countries are getting better. Sooner or later we will do like Europe. So European or Chinese tourists would be able to do the same as in Europe, if we can make that kind of arrangement with other Asean neighbours. Because as tourists you would want to see as many things as possible throughout your visit.

“So this Digital Tourism Forum is something to build up this relationship and maybe to propose common tourism packages between Asean members,” he said.

Abdul Karim also said since Indonesia could not send delegates to the forum, the Indonesian side has arranged for a separate meeting with the state government at a later date.

“We have been contacted by the Indonesian embassy and its government (and informed) that they will arrange for a time to come and meet us at a later date, yet to be decided,” he said adding that this showed the keenness on Indonesia’s part to work with Sarawak to enhance their tourism industries.

According to a press release from ACEA, among the guests-of-honour invited to attend the forum are Cambodian Ambassador Rath Many, Laos Ambassador Houmdaophone Soukhaseum, Vietnam Ambassador Le Quy Quynh, Myanmarese Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Counsellor Sein Nwe Aw, and Thailand Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Niranoot.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has been invited to officiate at the Forum. — DayakDaily