Sarawak tourism players must bear in mind GDS-Index in developing destinations, products

Ting (fourth left) flanked by Mona on his left in a group photo the event organisers and speakers.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 20: Tourism players must make it a priority to develop the unique destinations and eco-tourism products in Sarawak sensitively and sustainably now that the State is part of the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index), a benchmarking system that will rank Sarawak’s business events and tourism sustainability performance.

Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah pointed out that the Index is fully aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Criteria which is part and parcel of Sarawak’s Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) for tourists to make the State a leading destination for ecotourism and sustainable business events by 2030.

“What differentiates Sarawak from other destinations are the unique ecotourism products and services which are distinctly unique Sarawakian experiences.

“As such, 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 in his opening keynote read by Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Sebastian Ting at the opening of the TTLx Summit held at Chemsains today.

Sarawak has launched the GDSI Partnership programme – Sarawak Region (SDSI-Sarawak Partner) comprising 30 committee members consisting of local government, ministries and agencies, academia, associations and industry partners.

The GDS-Index focuses on four key areas – environmental performance, social progress performance, destination supplier performance, and destination management performance.

“As such, this Index will support every industry in Sarawak to adopt best practices of sustainability and will greatly benefit the State. This initiative is a world first in Malaysia, thanks to the efforts and hardwork by our convention bureau, Business Events Sarawak,” he added.

TTLx Summit is a tourism-centered conference that emerged from a small bi-weekly online webinar called TuesdayTalk LIVE created at the start of the pandemic by Place Borneo to keep tourism players engaged in discussion and sharing ideas on how to work together for the betterment of the industry during and post Covid-19.

The two-day conference until tomorrow (Sept 21) features international speakers sharing talks on ‘How the Koreans Tourism Industry are Reinventing Themselves’, ‘Getting Ready for Singapore Tourists’, ‘Cultural Heritage Tourism: Redefining the True Meaning of Travel’ and more.

The Ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia Raden Sigit Witjaksono, Place Borneo Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Mona Manap and its director Gracie Geikie, Business Events Sarawak general manager (Business Development and Marketing) Jason Tan and Centre for Asia Leadership co-founder and president Samuel Hungsoo Kim were among those present. — DayakDaily