KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has transformed to be an effective and efficient organisation, effectively marketing the eco-tourism products available in Sarawak to the rest of the world.
“My responsibility for the first 100 days of becoming a CEO (chief executive officer) was to understand the health of the organisation so we did an internal staff survey to see what are the positive and negative things relating on the organisation culture and management capabilities,” said the CEO of STB, Datuk Rashid Khan in an exclusive interview with The Borneo Post yesterday.
The former commercial director of Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) from 2005 to 2009 took over
the reigns of STB on November 16, 2009 in a bid to impart his expertise and management skills to further the growth of STB.
According to him, a changed management programme was put in place to ensure the right capability within the organisation besides putting priorities on talent management, human capital and development so that the staff were able to undertake the responsibilities assigned to them.
During his early days with STB there were a lot of engagements with various stakeholders; the government, ministries, private sector and the players in the industry so that he could guage the industry and put in the right formula to transform it to adapt to the new direction.
“The tourism industry is private-sector driven so we needed to work together with the private sector to ensure successful implementation of the programmes to bring in tourists to the state,” Rashid said.
He believed that the crux of the transformation depended on leveraging on the existing products and facilities that were already in place and then to enhance these tourism products to higher expectations.
“Going forward, we need to take into account that a great competitive edge that Sarawak has is its tremendous natural assets such as forests, mountains, hills and rivers. That being done, the next step is to promote a unique Sarawak experience to tourists, that will provide them with a lifetime of memories.
“There are a lot of things that we have not capitalised on, we need to identify areas and transform them into viable products. STB’s duty is to assist the private sector to market these unique products and services and make them known to tourists so that they are aware that these products and services are available here,” he stressed.
Considering the availability of medical and education infrastructure available in Sarawak, STB tapped into the opportunity to market its medical tourism and educational programmes which are also under the perview of tourism to visitors from neighbouring countries.
Besides that, STB also focuses on high yield customers and most of them were business tourists who came for conventions and business meetings.
“We are fortunate to have improvements in air linkages for our regional destinations such as Singapore, Japan, Korea and the surrounding markets,” he said.
Rashid also highlighted that STB’s strategic intention was to deliver breakthrough results. The board looked at programmes that brought maximum impact to the industry.
“Our budget of RM4.5 million for marketing must create value and value added impact to our tourism stakeholders. All our programmes are intended to benefit the private sector and we’re there to play a supporting role,” he added.
He noted that STB’s focus for now was regional markets as the regional countries had stable economies and high disposable incomes.
“We will maintain the rest of our market but we will continue to cooperate with Tourism Malaysia in marketing our products to the rest of the countries,” he concluded.