Sarawak expects travel industry to recover gradually by next year

by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic by BERNAMA

SARAWAK expects travel and tourism to recover gradually by 2022 following the nationwide vaccine rollout which accelerated the key markets.

“We foresee a gradual travel and tourism recovery by the end of 2021 and through 2022 thanks to the accelerated vaccine rollout across Malaysia and key markets in Asean region.

“For Sarawak, in addition to intelligent risk management within borders, we also have in place stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) for tourists and industry players,” Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) CEO Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor said in a statement yesterday.

“We are looking forward to the rest of the year and 2022. Kuching’s recent inclusion as one of the 49 new cities under the Unesco’s Creative Cities Network bodes well for the state, and will amplify our presence among domestic and international travellers,” she added.

Recently, close to 200 players from Sarawak’s tourism industry took a “Responsible Tourism” pledge, committing to reduce their environmental footprint, support local communities, and protect culture and heritage.

The pledge involves participation from government representatives, local tour operators, hoteliers and healthcare service providers, which was held simultaneously in Kuching, Sibu and Miri during an industry briefing with STB.

“This pledge is a sign of our commitment and conviction to build a mindful mindset among industry players and visitors alike.

“We strongly believe that collective responsible tourism efforts will not only contribute to the wellbeing of our local communities and environment but also create meaningful experiences for travellers,” said Sharzede.

She added that responsible tourism has always been a part of STB’s DNA, along with culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals.

“STB over the years has actively organised numerous environment and skill-based programmes to advocate for tourist sustainability among Sarawakians, as well as to equip the lower-income people with the potential to upscale their income,” she said further.

This time, the pledge focuses on 3Es — environmental protection, empowering communities through education, and economic viability and impact.

These focus on Sustainable Development Goals of quality education, responsible consumption and production, and partnership for the goals.

According to Sharzede, the tourism industry will never be the same. “Therefore, the efforts are not focused on going back to where we were. Instead, we want to build, create and imagine the new ways of business beyond Covid-19.”

Notably, STB was also recently named as the “One to Watch” by WTM Responsible Tourism Awards 2021 in the Destinations Building Back Better Post-Covid category.