Kuala Lumpur, 16 August 2023 – Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) proudly accepted two esteemed awards at the BrandLaureate BestBrands Awards for the year 2022-2023, held today at The Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Organized by The World Brands Foundation (TWBF), the BrandLaureate BestBrands Awards have recognized pioneering brands that demonstrated exceptional strategies and brand positioning.
STB received two exceptional recognitions under the “Nation’s Pride Award” in the Tourism Promotion Excellence and “CEO of the Year – Tourism” to Puan Sharzede Datu Hj. Salleh Askor that honors STB’s commitment and various initiatives in positioning Sarawak as a global tourism icon and a leading ecotourism destination in Southeast Asia with Responsible Tourism being its core approach, twinned with STB’s marketing campaign “Sarawak, More to Discover.”
Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts (MTCP) Sarawak YB Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah commended STB’s achievements and commitment in showcasing Sarawak’s pristine natural beauty, vibrant cultural heritage, exhilarating adventure tourism offerings, and unswerving dedication to sustainable tourism practices.
Under the Nation’s Pride Award for Tourism Promotion Excellence, Sarawak Tourism Board was recognised for brand performance; brand strategy; brand innovation; brand communication and brand cultures.
“The ‘Nation’s Pride Award’ and ‘Brandleadership Award’ for Sharzede serve as a testament to STB’s relentless dedication in showcasing Sarawak’s treasures and advocating for responsible tourism practices. Their tireless efforts have not only elevated Sarawak on the global tourism stage but have also enriched the lives of our communities,” he said.
Under the guidance of MTCP, STB has achieved many notable achievements in 2023, a stellar one being conferred affiliate membership to United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), enabling STB to join UNWTO’s ongoing efforts to bring together the actors of the ‘ecosystem’ of Responsible Tourism under its priority of sustainability in tourism.
Another notable achievement is the triumphant return of the renowned Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in 2023 that is celebrated for its strong commitment to Responsible Tourism. Not only the festival is now an iconic event that celebrates Sarawak’s cultural heritage, the RWMF also serves as a platform for diverse artists from across the globe to harmoniously unite through the universal language of music and arts while embracing the principles of Responsible Tourism.
In addition to these accomplishments, STB achieved remarkable success in terms of visitor arrivals for 2023. As of July, the total visitor arrivals reached an impressive 2,269,855, with over 1 million foreign visitors. The year’s target of welcoming 3 million visitors is well within reach, showcasing the effectiveness of STB’s initiatives and strategies in promoting Sarawak as a compelling and responsible tourism destination.
Amid the challenges posed by the pandemic, STB demonstrated remarkable resilience through the implementation of a comprehensive strategy, known as the “3R Strategy”. This strategy, consisting of three phases – Phase 1: Rebuilding and Relief, Phase 2: Recovery Collaboration, and Phase 3: Redialing – played a pivotal role in navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic while safeguarding the well-being of Sarawak’s communities and visitors alike.
Sharzede Datu Hj. Salleh Askor receives the Brandleadership Award for CEO of the Year for her strong stewardship in positioning Sarawak as a tourism destination that advocates Responsible Tourism at the forefront of all tourism practices. Her transformative leadership led to remarkable surges in visitor numbers and positioned Sarawak as a must-visit destination for travelers seeking authentic cultural experiences while fostering balanced growth that respected local communities through her emphasis on community-based tourism products as part of her visionary path to chart Sarawak’s course toward becoming Asia’s premier eco-tourism destination by 2030.
Reflecting on these accolades, Sharzede, who was unable to attend the prestigious event, expressed, “These awards reflect the strong guidance by the Sarawak Government and vision under our Post Covid Development Strategy and Tourism Masterplan. This was crucial in meeting all our objectives. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have directly and indirectly supported us. A profound thanks to my exceptional team at STB for their tireless hard work and dedication.”