The Pacific Asia Travel Association is expanding its Tourism Destination Resilience program in the Asia Pacific region by offering capacity-building training in Sarawak, Malaysia. 

The program, designed to enhance resilience and long-term sustainability in tourism destinations, will provide training to help Sarawak’s tourism industry navigate future challenges. 

Recovery from Covid-19 crisis 

Launched in 2021, the TDR program aims to assist destinations in recovering from the Covid-19 crisis and preparing for upcoming obstacles. As tourism numbers approach pre-pandemic levels, PATA emphasizes the need for resilience in the travel and tourism industry to avoid reverting to outdated business models. 

“Tourism holds immense significance for Malaysia, particularly for culturally and environmentally diverse destinations like Sarawak,” said PATA Chief Executive Noor Ahmad Hamid in a release on Tuesday. He highlighted the importance of building robust destinations that can withstand crises and adapt to changing circumstances. 

“We are delighted that Sarawak has joined us on this journey towards building resilience.” 

A holistic approach to tourism success 

Traditionally, tourism success has been measured by revenue and international visitor arrivals. However, industry leaders now recognize the importance of a more holistic approach, focusing on visitor experience quality, length of stay, daily expenditure, residents’ well-being, and the conservation of natural and cultural assets. 

Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor, CEO of the Sarawak Tourism Board, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership with PATA. 

“As partners in progress, the Sarawak Tourism Board is proud to join hands with PATA in the TDR programme to equip our stakeholders with the tools necessary to anticipate, respond to, and recover from various challenges,” Askor said. 

“These capacity-building efforts will empower individuals and organizations across Sarawak to contribute effectively to our collective resilience.” 

Sarawak’s appeal as a tourist destination 

Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, is an established destination in Southeast Asia, attracting nearly 4 million domestic, regional, and international visitors in 2023.  

The state boasts lush rainforests that are home to unique wildlife species such as orangutans, as well as majestic mountains, caves, and rivers. Visitors can explore traditional longhouses and interact with the indigenous tribes of Sarawak, experiencing their distinct customs and traditions. 

Sarawak’s bustling capital, Kuching, offers a blend of modernity and heritage, with colonial-era architecture and bustling markets. The state also offers outdoor activities such as jungle trekking, wildlife watching, and river cruising, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. 

Commitment to sustainable tourism policies 

The state has long been committed to sustainable tourism policies, aligning with several Sustainable Development Goals, adding to its touristic appeal.  

While sustainability is important, PATA emphasizes that true sustainability can only be achieved through resilience. This is crucial to protect heritage, conserve biodiversity, and alleviate poverty amid challenges such as international crises and climate change. 

TDR program across Asia Pacific 

The TDR programme has been implemented in a few destinations across the Asia Pacific region since 2021, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. It offers training at national, local, and business levels. 

Training in Sarawak 

In Sarawak, the four-day training will take place in Kuching from May 20 to 25. The first two days will target government officials and decision-makers, while the last two days will focus on tourism SMEs. 

The training will kick off with an opening ceremony attended by the Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry, & Performing Arts, Dato Sri Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor; and PATA CEO Noor Ahmad Hamid.