Kuching first to be assessed under GDSI to measure Sarawak’s sustainability for tourism, business events

From left: Amelia, Abdul Karim, Hii and Sharzede (from left to right) in a question and answer (Q&A) session for the introduction of GDSI-Sarawak Partner.

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, Aug 11: Kuching city will be first in Malaysia to undertake the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDSI) with the aim of making Sarawak a leading destination for ecotourism and sustainable business events by 2030.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the assessment will soon expand to Sibu, Miri and other major cities, towns in Sarawak.

In the GDSI, he said Sarawak with Kuching as the pilot project will be assessed based on 71 indicators across four key areas which are environmental performance, social progress performance, destination supplier performance, and destination management performance.

“The GDS-Index is a measurement tool to assess how sustainable Sarawak is for business events and tourism on a global scale.

“It is part of the Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS 2030) for Tourism just recently launched by the Chief Minister.

“The GDS-Index is fully aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Criteria where Kuching city has been chosen as the pilot project for Sarawak,” he said.

Abdul Karim said Sarawakians should be proud of this initiative as Sarawak is among the earliest to look into sustainable tourism and business events compared to other Malaysian states, along with 75 other participating progressive destinations worldwide.

“Most of the other destinations are in Europe or in the west, but the Asian capitals are slowly picking up because they can see the importance of having this approach.

“The index benefits more than just business events and tourism. It will support every industry in Sarawak to adopt best practices of sustainability to make Sarawak sustainable for visitors and a place for all of us to live in,” he said during the launching of the GDSI Partnership Programme-Sarawak Region (GDSI-Sarawak Partner) at a hotel here today.

GDSI-Sarawak Partner, which comprises 30 committee members from multiple ministries and agencies, associations and industry partners, will steer the assessments and work towards fulfilling the 71 GDSI indicators.

The main committee is chaired by Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee with the respective Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Business Events Sarawak (BE Sarawak) and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) as Task Leaders.

Other key players in the partnership programme include the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources, Kuching North City Hall (DBKU), and Kuching South City Council (MBKS).

To date, Abdul Karim revealed, Sarawak is in the process of data consolidation and the performance results are expected to be released by the end of October, if not sooner.

While bi-annual check-ins are to be held to compile results, recommendations and update policies that encourage a pledge of commitment from all involved parties and stakeholders, he urged more government and private agencies to come forward and support this cause.

“For business events and tourism, our move towards a sustainable future will drive Sarawak’s visibility and branding around the world.

“It will give us the power to create strong destination stories and position Sarawak as a potential role model for other second-tier destinations to implement a similar action,” he added.

Among those present at the ceremony were also STB chief executive officer (CEO) Sharzede Salleh Askor and BE Sarawak CEO Amelia Roziman. — DayakDaily