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PATA expands Tourism Resilience Programme to Sarawak

PATA Sarawak

PATA launches capacity-building training in Sarawak to enhance tourism resilience and sustainability across the Asia Pacific region.

BANGKOK,  THAILAND – The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) announced the expansion of the Tourism Destination Resilience (TDR) Programme in the Asia Pacific region, with Sarawak, Malaysia, as the next destination to receive capacity-building training aimed at building greater resilience and fostering long-term sustainability.

The TDR Programme, launched in 2021, was designed to assist destinations in the region to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and proactively prepare for future challenges. With tourism numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels, resilience becomes all the more important to ensure that the travel and tourism industry does not go back to previous business models.

Tourism holds immense significance for Malaysia, particularly for culturally and environmentally diverse destinations like Sarawak. To safeguard this heritage for future generations and to sustainably nurture tourism’s growth and benefits within the region, adherence to sustainable tourism practices is no longer enough,” said PATA CEO Noor Ahmad Hamid. “Our destinations must be robust to withstand crises and adaptive to navigate through evolving landscapes seamlessly. We are delighted that Sarawak has joined us on this journey towards building resilience.”

While tourism revenue and the number of International Visitor Arrivals (IVAs) have traditionally been considered primary indicators of tourism success, it is now imperative for the industry to adopt a more holistic approach and mindset. Factors such as the quality of visitor experience, length of stay, daily expenditure, residents’ well-being, and the conservation of natural and cultural assets hold far greater significance as signs of progress and prosperity for destinations.

According to Sarawak Tourism Board CEO Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor, “As partners in progress, the Sarawak Tourism Board is proud to join hands with PATA in the Tourism Destination Resilience Programme to equip our stakeholders with the tools necessary to anticipate, respond to, and recover from various challenges. From crisis management and risk assessment to sustainable tourism practices and community engagement, these capacity-building efforts will empower individuals and organizations across Sarawak to contribute effectively to our collective resilience.”

Sharzede adds, “By investing in the development of our human capital, we not only enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of Sarawak’s tourism industry but also foster a culture of collaboration and resilience that will endure for years to come. Together with PATA, we are excited to embark on this transformative journey towards a more resilient and prosperous future for Sarawak.”

Sarawak stands as an established and popular destination in Southeast Asia, having welcomed nearly 4 million domestic, regional and international visitors in 2023. Tourists are attracted by its unique natural beauty, vibrant culture and numerous adventure activities, including jungle trekking and wildlife watching. Tourism has long been a significant economic driver for Sarawak, with a great impact on the state’s economy and society. To mitigate tourism’s negative impacts on the environment and local communities, Sarawak has been deeply committed to implementing sustainable tourism policies and practices, including SDGs 4, 11, 12, 13 and 17.

However, sustainability alone is not sufficient. Since the onset of the pandemic, PATA has been advocating that for true sustainability to be achieved, destinations must first build resilience. Efforts towards heritage protection, biodiversity conservation or poverty alleviation risk being undermined in the face of international economic or health crises, as exemplified by COVID-19. Climate change and its related consequences also pose significant risks to all destinations, especially coastal and island territories such as Sarawak.

The Tourism Destination Resilience (TDR) capacity-building programme was implemented in several destinations since 2021, at national, local and business levels:

  • TDR Training of Trainers for National Tourism Organisations (NTOs): December 2021 – Manila, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Bandung, Indonesia.
  • TDR Training to Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and destination stakeholders: February-April 2022 – Siquijor, the Philippines; Hoi An, Vietnam; Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Bogor, Indonesia.
  • TDR Finance and Digital Skills Training for Tourism Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs): July-September 2023 – Laguna, the Philippines; Hoi An, Vietnam; Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Jakarta, Indonesia.

In Sarawak, the 4-day training will take place in Kuching from May 20-25, targeting tourism government officials and decision-makers, during the first two days of training, and focusing on tourism SMEs on the last two days of the programme. The Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts, the Honourable Dato Sri Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, along with CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board, Ms Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor, and PATA CEO, Noor Ahmad Hamid, will attend the opening ceremony to give their opening remarks.

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