Countries in the Asia Pacific region need to take the lead on sustainable tourism, Malaysia’s Tourism Minister has said.
Addressing the PATA Annual Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, Dr Ng Yen Yen delivered an impassioned speech urging the tourism industry to embrace sustainable concepts and set standards for other countries to follow.
“The world can no longer focus on profit, profit, profit… it must be about sustainability, social responsibility and corporate responsibility,” Dr Ng told delegates. “The axis of power has shifted to Asia, and Asia must take the lead,” she added.
Dr Ng’s environmental theme continued into a later panel session. During the ‘Building the Business Beyond Profits’ debate, Dr Ng argued that tourism and environmental protection could exist hand-in-hand. “People think that tourism will destroy Mother Nature. Is this right? No. We need to protect Mother Nature and tell the world to focus on responsible tourism,” she said.
Dr Ng also used the address to outline Malaysia’s policies and ambitions in the area of sustainable tourism, which have included raising the entry price at Malaysia’s marina parks and developing ecologically-focused home-stay programmes.
“[Our country’s] philosophy is to conserve, preserve and protect Mother Nature… We are bridging the divide between urban and rural tourism,” Dr Ng said, adding that national policy means that no more than 50% of Malaysia’s land will ever be developed.
In terms of social development, Dr Ng spoke of the need to empower young people, including offering training opportunities for growing sectors such as golf and spa tourism.
“Tourism is the answer for the world, today and tomorrow. We are a fun industry, but we need to make our voice heard,” she concluded.
Pic caption: Malaysia’s Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen addresses delegates at the PATA Annual Conference in Kuala Lumpur