Sarawak fit for sustainable tourism, more efforts needed for eco-tourism

KUCHING: IPK International (IPK) has found in a survey that 22 per cent of the tourism market are ‘sustainability-aware’ tourists, a fact which Sarawak can take note of as a city practising eco-tourism.

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According to a presentation at the Global Tourism Cities Conference 2013 by Stefanie Grothe, manager for Sustainable Tourism Development of IPK International, Germany, sustainable tourism is tourism that meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future.
 
It is generally the management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining the cultural integrity and the ecological processes of the natural environment.


“On behalf of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne, IPK carried out several studies concerning the question of consumers’ understanding of sustainable tourism and their willingness to pay for such products.
 
“We found that when booking vacations, among the other factors such as weather or climate, price, local culture, and others, sustainability was found to be among the top three for 22 per cent of the respondents,” highlighted Grothe.
 
Overall, tourists principally favour sustainable tourism products, which can lead to product diversification, and therefore result in an interesting way to increase market share.
 
“However, another study found that at the moment, tourists are at the moment, not willing to pay more for the inclusion of a specific sustainable attribute.
 
“Despite this, as sustainable tourism has much to do with the quality of tourism, we know tourists are indeed willing to pay for the quality,” she added.
 
This has found to be the case with Rainforest World Music Festival whereby throngs of tourists from all over the world willingly come to the city’s rainforest just to experience the music.
 
The festival, ranked seventh on Reuter’s list of top 10 places to enjoy outdoor summer music takes place in the Sarawak Cultural Village, also allows tourists to experience its outdoor museum, showcasing the many tribes and cultures of Malaysia.
 
An example of another country which practices sustainable tourism by successfully integrating city visits with rainforest tourism is Brunei, whereby most tour operators provide packages which allow tourists to visit or stay at national parks in order to expose them to the natural environment.
 
As pointed out by Dr Debra J Enzenbacher, FRGS, Associate Professor of University of Brunei Darussalam, sustainable practice helps preserve tourism resources for the short, medium and long-term.
 
“Overall, Brunei’s nature-based tourism is popular and increasing, thus providing a strong incentive for conservation.
 
“However, more research is needed to understand the effects that city and rainforest visits have on the environment as a whole,” added Enzenbacher.
 
Source: The Borneo Post      Pix: Joebonaventure Matius

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