Press conference panel (from left): Andee Yeo – Sarawak Business Events Association (SBE), Sharzede Datu Hj Salleh Askor – CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board, Amelia Roziman – Acting CEO, BESarawak, Mr. Hii Chang Kee – Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture Sarawak (MTAC), Datuk Karim Rahman Hamzah – Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture Sarawak, Suriya Charles Buas – Director of Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MOTAC) Malaysia, Audry Wan Ullok – President of Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), Gracie Geikie – Chairwoman of Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MACEOS).
16 July 2021, Kuching: Over 2,000 of Sarawak’s tourism and business events industry frontliners will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 during the final phase of the Industrial COVID-19 Vaccination Programme which began on 15 July 2021 until 18 July 2021 at the Association of Churches Sarawak, Kuching.
“The prospect of reopening Sarawak for tourism and business events is high. This is a timely development as the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) is implementing the COVID-19 Free Destination Programme which would enable main tourism and business events cities to reopen once the targeted herd immunity of 80% is achieved,” said Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri. She added that business events will be one of her Ministry’s main focus during Malaysia’s phase three of the National Recovery Plan.
Meanwhile, speaking on the National Recovery Plan, Sarawak’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MTAC), Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, “Sarawak’s four-phase recovery roadmap includes the reopening of domestic travel activities by phase three and we have just entered phase two of the roadmap. Currently, Sarawak holds the highest record in the country with 71.4% of its adult population having been vaccinated with at least 1st dose, while 31% of the adult population has completed both doses. We anticipate entering phase three by the end of August where we aim to restart tourism and business events in Sarawak by the 4th quarter this year.”
However, reaching this milestone does not imply that one eye will be closed when it comes to safety protocols. “Although fully vaccinated, the industry will continue to adopt and implement all safety and precautionary measures,” said Mr. Hii Chang Kee, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak. “Tourism and business events activities will be organised with strict adherence to the government stipulated Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). The safety of those involved – whether as hosts, suppliers or visitors – remains a top priority in our state.”
From the business events industry perspective, this development is much awaited news for business events players. “The business events industry is finally one step closer to restarting again,” said Amelia Roziman, CEO of Business Events Sarawak. “We are 70% in delivering our State recovery plan for business events with updated SOP and improved incentivised packages, alongside creative marketing and promotional materials to ensure the success of the events that are being held in Sarawak. We are all eager to restart again and can’t wait to launch our brand new recovery efforts soon”.
Sarawak is the first state in Malaysia to complete the industrial vaccination programme for tourism and business events partners, led by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak (MTAC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), Ministry of Health of Malaysia (Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia) and Timberland Medical Centre.
Photo booths present at the vaccination centre were sponsored by BESarawak in collaboration with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Sarawak Business Events Association (SBE), and Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Supplier (MACEOS) Sarawak Chapter.