Making a formal announcement, Sarawak Tourism Board shared that the destination would be hosting the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) Convention 2022, scheduled to be held in Kuching from September 20 to 23. As many as 500 TAFI members from India are expected to participate in the convention.
This is the third convention to be held in Malaysia. In the past, TAFI held a convention in Kuala Lumpur in 1999 and in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in 2007.
Themed “Build Back Better”, the convention will explore strategies to integrate sustainability into the heart of every tourism business. During the convention, TAFI delegates will get to learn about Sarawak as an attractive multifaceted destination for the Indian market, it was shared in a joint press conference hosted by Sarawak Tourism Board and TAFI.
The convention will highlight Sarawak’s diverse ethnicities which comprise 28 ethnic tribes, all with their own unique traditions, lifestyles, music, food and handmade crafts, it was shared.
“There has been a positive increase of 304% in visitor arrivals from India during the period of January to July 2022 compared to the same time period in 2021. TAFI Convention 2022 is a golden opportunity for us to ramp up Sarawak’s visibility in India and also to showcase to our Indian travel agent partners why Sarawak should be their next destination of choice when it comes to tourism and business events,” said YB Dato Sri Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak (MTCP) during the press conference.
The Indian tourist arrivals to Malaysia pre-pandemic in 2019 showed a positive trend with a 15% growth rate, while India ranked 5th place in terms of visitor arrivals to Sarawak, marking a significant potential for Sarawak to tap into the Indian market, he shared.
As one of the largest global industries, Travel & Tourism – which accounts for close to 10 percent of global GDP and employs one in 10 persons worldwide, the industry has the power to shape the world and the potential to be a powerful force for good.
Speakers at the convention would include industry players, state government representatives, as well as leaders from the tourism industry, who will take part in stimulating dialogues with ways to build resilience as the tourism industry moves beyond the pandemic. This is the first time that such a convention is being held in Kuching, Sarawak.
Focusing on building a more resilient tourism industry and responsible tourism post-pandemic, TAFI’s “Build Back Better” theme has been conceptualised to promote sustainable and responsible tourism practices, conservation and advanced greening efforts.
“We will be looking into bringing more arrivals to enjoy the wonders of Malaysia and its delights. Apart from our objective to instill confidence among Indians to feel safe to visit Malaysia again, we hope that this convention and business session provide a platform for the industry community to gather, exchange ideas, and return even stronger,” said Dato’ Zainuddin Abdul Wahab, Tourism Malaysia’s Director General.
“I am also delighted to note that the resumption of scheduled international flights from India has been timely in promoting Malaysia to Indian travellers. Hence, we anticipate a 30% increase in the pre-pandemic arrivals to Malaysia this year. In 2019, the Indian market contributed 735,309 arrivals (22%) to the country,” he added.
Sarawak Tourism Board CEO Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor said: “We are happy to welcome the TAFI delegates to our shores soon. As we see signs of recovery, now is a crucial time to build back better and this process begins with seeing the confidence of a group of key tourism players to gather here in Sarawak.”
“Business events such as TAFI Convention 2022 are great platforms to initiate change, motivation and collaborations,” expressed Amelia Roziman, Business Events Sarawak’s CEO. “TAFI’s collaboration with STB and Tourism Malaysia is an exemplary strategy for developing the Indian travel market in Malaysia, and the convention will be a powerful catalyst in bridging the gap between India and Malaysia.”
“Sarawak is a relatively unexplored destination for the Indian traveller. We anticipate that after the convention, our members will be inspired to promote tourism to this beautiful province since it can be a great venue for destination weddings, family travel and corporate events,” said Ajay Prakash, president of TAFI.
“We deeply appreciate the support given by Sarawak Tourism Board, Business Events Sarawak, Tourism Malaysia and our Official Carrier, Malaysia Airlines,” he added.