STB-Scope collaboration to boost Sarawak’s responsible tourism, biodiversity sustainability efforts

Dr Asleena (second left) and Sharzede (right) showing signed MOU documents, witnessed by Abdul Karim (centre) Sabariah (left) and Dennis (second right), after the webinar session today (May 6, 2021).

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KUCHING, May 6: The Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is collaborating with the Sarawak Centre of Performance Excellence (Scope) to promote responsible tourism efforts to preserve and ensure the sustainability of Sarawak’s ecotourism biodiversity.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, said in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, his ministry is committed to promoting responsible tourism in the State, including devising and implementing policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.

“Responsible tourism will help ensure Sarawak’s biodiversity remains protected as Sarawak is well known for its many national parks and its ecotourism initiatives.

“The State is home to majestic natural ecosystems, as well as a diverse selection of flora and fauna, and responsible tourism can help safeguard these natural resources and ensure their protection and survival for many generations to come,” said Abdul Karim in his speech when officiating at the official launch of STB’s Responsible Tourism Webinar, held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), here today.

Abdul Karim noted his ministry also launched the Journal of Responsible Tourism Management in August last year to promote Sarawak and inform readers on how responsible tourism can be applied in local contexts.

He said responsible tourism which focuses on the 3Es (Environment, Empowerment, and Economic Viability) will require cooperation from operators, hoteliers, governments, and local communities as well as tourists.

He said the key players need to take action to make tourism more sustainable, and in the long-term, benefit from its economic, social and environmental impact.

“Since 2019, when The Right Honorable Chief Minister of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Abang Haji Openg announced that Sarawak would focus on “Responsible Tourism”, the State has taken the necessary steps to build an eco-friendly and sustainable tourism industry.

“Among them are the tourism aspirations of the Sarawak Economic Action Council (SEAC) to position Sarawak as a leading destination for eco-tourism and business events in the Asean region by 2030 driven by empowered communities to conserve heritage, culture and biodiversity and to promote investment and development through responsible actions,” he added.

He also pointed out that visitors and tourists will also be rewarded, as responsible tourism initiatives can give visitors a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues and how they are contributing to their protection and longevity, which would give them a better travel experience.

“STB, as early as 2011, has taken various steps to create a sustainable tourism industry. These greening efforts were ramped up in 2019 with their Responsible Tourism Programme, which highlights three UN Sustainable Development Goals which is Quality Education, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Partnerships for the Goals,” he said.

Earlier on, the webinar session saw two keynote speakers, Society for Sustainable Tourism president and CEO Susan Santos de Cardenas, and Exo Travel Malaysia general manager Sara Salsini sharing their thoughts on responsible tourism with webinar participants and attendees.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed between Scope and STB who were represented by between Scope CEO Dr Asleena Helmi and STB CEO Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor respectively. The MOU paves the way for collaboration between the two bodies on workshops and research on the latest responsible tourism trends focusing mainly on Sustainable Development Goals such as quality education (SDG 4), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).

Also present were STB chairman Dennis Ngau, Deputy State Secretary (Performance and Service Delivery Transformation) and Scope chairwoman Datu Dr Sabariah Putit, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Hii Chang Kee. — DayakDaily