KUCHING, 17 March 2023: Sarawak Tourism Board is taking bold steps towards promoting Responsible Tourism, in line with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The message was loud and clear at last week’s ITB Berlin as STB presented a clear commitment to responsible tourism to tour operators.
At home, prioritising responsible tourism focuses on communities, businesses and government agencies across Sarawak state maximising positive economic, social and environmental impacts on tourism.
Such steps include introducing homestays in rural areas to sustainable waste management practices, which include recycling and reusing waste materials to create additional products and skills to earn side income.
STB’s waste management workshops have covered 46 registered homestays since it began in 2020, benefiting 11,779 households with a total of 82,688 residents. In addition, the aim is to provide a food source for local wildlife while creating a buffer zone for coastal areas.
The ultimate aim is to ensure local communities can benefit economically through:
- Optimal use of environmental resources to maintain essential ecological processes and help conserve natural heritage and biodiversity;
- Respecting the socio-cultural authenticity of communities – conserving the cultural heritage and traditional values;
- Providing socio-economic benefits – stable employment, income-earning opportunities and social services, towards alleviating poverty.
Recognising festivals have a massive carbon footprint and that waste generated at events impacts the environment, proactive measures have been adopted to ensure the renowned Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in Kuching and Borneo Jazz (BJ) in Miri are eco-friendly.
Since 2011, organisers of the two festivals, STB and Sarawak Forest Department, have collaborated to plant thousands of trees at the ecologically sensitive Kuching Wetlands National Park, a declared Ramsar Site. The annual mangrove tree-planting tradition remains a priority supported by music lovers who attend the two festivals.
RWMF and BJ are considered benchmarks for STB’s Responsible Tourism initiatives reflecting a commitment towards the three UN SDG goals – SDG 4 (Education and Lifelong Learning Opportunities), SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production); SDG 17 (Global Partnerships).
For more about the 2023 festivals and related STB events, visit:
RWMF 2023 https://rwmf.net/;
Borneo Jazz https://jazzborneo.com/.
Sustainability in Action event: https://www.pata.org/pata-destination-experience-forum-and-mart-2023.
Cutting Plastic Footprint – putting in place water-refill stations, encouraging reusable water bottles and eliminating single-use plastic bottled water at festivals.
Sustainable Procurement – sourcing alternative, eco-friendly products, including biodegradable tableware, procured locally to support local businesses, reduce carbon footprint and save energy.
Waste Management – proper disposal management of recyclables containers provided by a locally based waste management company.
Fashionable recycling – to make recycling fun and impactful, collaborative efforts with the local creative community resulted in eye-catching waste bin designs.
Food Composting – collaborative efforts with local social enterprises to collect and channel leftover organic waste into compost bins for worm farms to make bio-protein and for composting.
Tree planting – planting mangrove trees at the ecologically sensitive Kuching Wetlands National Park, a Ramsar Site, to create a buffer zone for the coastal areas.
Volunteer & Green Ambassadors – local university students and volunteers among social enterprises, termed “The Eco-warriors”, helped spread recycling and food waste composting messages.
Emissions and upcycling – shuttle busses ferry festival-goers to reduce carbon and prevent congestion. Promotional banners from previous years were upcycled into tote bags to be used as gifts and souvenirs.
All these undertakings allow visitors and locals to care for, connect and be mindful of the impact of tourism on destinations and communities – unfolding cultural experiences. It all adds up to Sarawak’s aspiration to be a ‘leader’ in ‘Responsible Tourism’.
(Your Stories: Sarawak Tourism Board)