Over 2,000 of Sarawak’s tourism and business events industry frontliners have been vaccinated against COVID-19 during the final phase of the Industrial COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, which took place from 15 July 2021 to 18 July 2021 at the Association of Churches Sarawak building, Kuching.
First in the country to complete Industrial Vaccination Programme
Sarawak is the first in Malaysia to complete the industrial vaccination programme for tourism, arts and culture as well as business events partners.
This initiative was 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.
Prospects of Sarawak tourism’s reopening is high
According to Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, 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,”
She added that business events would be one of her Ministry’s main focus during Malaysia’s phase three of the National Recovery Plan.
Potential reopening of domestic travel activities by Phase 3
Meanwhile, speaking on the National Recovery Plan, Sarawak’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MTAC), Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that 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,” he said.
Continuous implementation of safety protocols
However, reaching this milestone does not imply that one eye will be closed when it comes to safety protocols.
Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak Hii Chang Kee reassures that “Although fully vaccinated, the industry will continue to adopt and implement all safety and precautionary measures.”
“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,” he said
From the business events industry perspective, this development is much awaited news for business events players.
Inching closer to the restart of Business Events
Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) Chief Executive Officer Amelia Roziman mentioned that the business events industry is finally one step closer to restarting again.
Early this year they launched incentivised packages for Sarawak-based associations and corporate organisations to encourage them to host business events in the category of Conventions, Corporate Meetings, and Incentives locally. It was definitely a welcome move for the associations and corporate organisations, as well as all others who were severely affected by COVID.
“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,” she said.
Photo booth as a way to commemorate this significant milestone
The 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.
BorneoTalk also partnered with BESarawak to give away FREE #IM15 recyclable tote bags to vaccinated industry players that took a photo with the latest magazine issue at the photo booths with the hashtag #KeepBorneoTalking #RaonRaonSarawak #TribeSpirit