Sarawak has joined the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS Index) for Business Events and Tourism, and has launched the GDSI Partnership Programme – Sarawak Region (GDSI-Sarawak Partner).
GDSI-Sarawak Partner initiative comprises 30 committee members – local government ministries and agencies, associations, and industry partners – who will combine efforts to lead the state’s sustainable future through data consolidation, stakeholder engagements and communication. This initiative is a world-first for Malaysia.
To kickstart the GDS Index, Kuching has been selected as part of the pilot project, positioning the city as one of 75 progressive destinations in the world to undertake the GDS-Index.
The globally recognised benchmarking system will rank Sarawak’s business events and tourism sustainability performance. The assessment will be based on 71 indicators across four key areas – environmental performance, social progress performance, destination supplier performance, and destination management performance.
Upon successful completion, the assessment will be expanded to other cities in Sarawak such as Sibu, Miri, and other major towns.
Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, minister of tourism, arts and culture Sarawak and GDSI-Sarawak Partner’s patron, clarified that while the Index prioritises business events and tourism, its underlying value will benefit “every industry in Sarawak”.
“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.”
Sustainability isn’t new to the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), as it has been actively advocating responsible tourism among visitors and stakeholders through its various green initiatives.
STB’s CEO Sharzede Salleh Askor, shared: “STB has actively organised various environmentally-oriented and skill-based programmes to not only advocate sustainability in tourism to urban, sub-urban and rural Sarawakians, but also empower the lower-income groups with the ability to upscale their income and have a sense of responsibility to fulfil the Responsible Tourism agenda to the fullest.”
“Sustainable conventions, exhibitions, corporate meetings and corporate incentives are a must,” stressed Amelia Roziman, Business Events Sarawak’s CEO.
“More business events planners are making decisions based on sustainability performances and this matter goes as deep as evaluating social inclusiveness and the return on investment of their events. These factors also affect international and national delegates’ decision to visit Sarawak for business events.”
To date, GDSI-Sarawak Partner is in the process of data consolidation and the result of Kuching’s performance is expected to be released by October. The initiative will hold bi-annual check-ins to compile results, recommendations, and update policies that encourage a pledge of commitment from all involved parties and stakeholders.