Over 600 Indian delegates and speakers made their way to Kuching for this year’s Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) Convention, held for the first time in Sarawak at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) from September 20 to 22, 2022.
Themed ‘Build Back Better’, the convention aims to draw more Indian tourists to the state and promote sustainable and responsible tourism practices. Sarawak being a steady advocate of responsible tourism since 2011 makes it the perfect venue for this year’s convention.
Upon their arrival in Kuching, the delegates were welcomed in an inaugural dinner on the evening of September 20, also attended by guests of honour, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak (MTCP), Dato Sri Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, Dato Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, High Commissioner of India to Malaysia, His Excellency Shri B. N. Reddy, MTCP Deputy Minister, Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew, MTCP Permanent Secretary, Hii Chang Kee, President of TAFI, Ajay Prakash, President & CEO of VFS Global, Zubin Karkaria, CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Sharzede Datu Hj Salleh Askor and STB Board Members.
“The TAFI Convention 2022 is a good start for us to connect and further promote Sarawak’s visibility to the Indian market. With the positive increase of 304% in visitors’ arrival of India during the period of January to July 2022 as compared to the same period last year, we are certain that this is a step forward to entice more Indian visitors to our shores after this,” said Sarawak Premier YAB Tan Sri Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg in his speech read by Abdul Karim.
The night saw a traditional Indian lighting ceremony, signifying the launching of the three-day convention, performances from Sarawak Arts Council, as well as the TAFI Travel Biz Monitor Tourism Awards, which honours individuals for their contributions to the tourism industry. Among those who received awards were Sharzede Datu Hj Salleh, CEO of STB (Super Women of Tourism: Conservation & Environment), Amelia Roziman, CEO of Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak), (Super Women of Tourism: Innovation & Marketing Leadership), Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President of Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA), (Special Appreciation), Dato Zainuddin Abdul Wahab, Director-General of Tourism Malaysia (Torch Bearer of Malaysia Tourism), Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (Torch Bearer of Sarawak Tourism) as well as Hii Chang Kee (Special Recognition), for his pursuit of excellence while championing the cause of Sarawak Tourism.
Other recipients include Liberatha Kallat (Super Women of Tourism: Business Leadership), Jyoti Mayal (Super Women of Tourism: Tourism Advocacy), Natalia Bayona (Super Women of Tourism: Education & Digital Transformation), Lars Thykier (Special Appreciation), Anukush Nijhawan and Dev Karvat (Torch Bearers of Tourism (India): Travel Innovation), Zubin J Karkaria (Global Business Leader) and Manoharan Periasamy (Face of Tourism Malaysia in India) for his record-breaking stint.
Throughout the convention, TAFI is holding four stimulating dialogue sessions featuring industry players, state government representatives as well as leaders from the tourism industry from both India and Sarawak; and a Business-to-Business (B2B) engagements with more than 60 Sarawak tourism-related organisations, including Malaysia Airlines, Sarawak Forestry, Centre of Technical Excellence (CENTEXS) Lundu, Burak Bar, Leaves, Tuague, Pungu Borneo, Pina Tuaq, WebBeds, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) and Desaru Coast.