The striking city of Kuching, Sarawak, hosted over 270 international delegates at the groundbreaking PATA Destination Experience Forum and Mart 2023 (PDFM 2023). This annual event kicked off on Wednesday, June 21, under the bold theme of “Sustainability in Action,” championing a renewed vision for the tourism industry post-pandemic.
This pivotal assembly, organized jointly by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Sarawak Convention Bureau, and the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry & Performing Arts of Sarawak, attracted a diverse mix of public and private sector figures. These attendees hailed from 28 countries, demonstrating the global interest in addressing the challenges and opportunities of sustainable tourism.
“This year’s forum aims to kickstart a meaningful change in how we view and measure tourism success,” said PATA Chair Peter Semone. “As we navigate a post-COVID world, we can either turn a blind eye to mass tourism’s environmental and social consequences, or seize the opportunity to recalibrate.”
The delegate list included prominent representatives from countries such as Australia, Bhutan, Canada, and Germany, all keen to understand how to incorporate sustainability into their tourism practices.
Sarawak’s commitment to sustainable tourism and its innovative approach to gastronomy and adventure travel made it the perfect backdrop for this pivotal gathering. STB’s CEO, Sharzede Datu Hj Salleh Askor, expressed her delight at the chance to showcase Sarawak’s unique and responsible tourism experiences to delegates, helping to position the state as a premier eco-tourism destination.
The forum’s agenda was packed with immersive activities to introduce delegates to Sarawak’s rich culture, heritage, and history. One highlight of the program was the choice of three unique exploratory routes, each offering a snapshot of Sarawak’s commitment to ecotourism, gastronomy, and responsible tourism.
Expert presentations over the two-day conference featured thought leaders from prominent organizations such as the World Tourism Organization, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, and the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
Speakers covered a wide range of topics, from setting sustainability goals and leveraging new trends in sustainable tourism to the role of gastronomy in destination marketing. The information shared provided a roadmap for the industry to navigate the complex landscape of sustainable tourism.
Amidst these expert talks, delegates had the opportunity to engage in one-on-one networking and explore potential business collaborations at the tabletop tradeshow. The proactive discussions here will pave the way for future partnerships and growth in the sustainable tourism industry.
The PATA Destination Experience Forum and Mart 2023 stands as a beacon of hope and innovation for the future of sustainable tourism. Sarawak has raised the bar for future events, setting an example for the industry as it navigates the uncharted waters of a post-pandemic world. The global tourism industry watches with keen interest as the lessons learned at PDFM 2023 begin to bear fruit in the sustainable initiatives of the future.
Written by: Supaporn Pholrach (Joom)