The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has identified tourism as one of the world’s largest industries, generating significant employment and contributing to global GDP. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism accounted for 10.3 per cent of all jobs, employing 333 million people, and contributed 10.3 per cent of the global GDP, amounting to US$9.6 trillion.
However, even before that, the cultural and heritage tourism sector faced numerous challenges, further amplified by the pandemic.
To address the challenges faced globally in sustainably conserving and marketing cultural tourism, which can benefit the country’s economic, social, and environmental growth, UDS Media Sdn Bhd took the initiative to organise the inaugural International Conference and Exhibition on World Cultures 2023 (ICWC ‘23) in September.
UDS Media Sdn Bhd, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) and Datuk Saraya Arbi, MOTAC Secretary-General, announced that Malaysia would play host to the first ICWC ‘23 as an initiative to unite the unique cultures of the world under one roof to elevate the economic, social, environmental, and gastronomic growth of the global tourism industry.
Azmi Mustapha, the President of ICWC, said: “Tourism is a key pillar in the economy that creates employment and opportunities for every nation, and culture is one of the main driving forces for tourism growth.
“An event such as the ICWC ‘23 is a great opportunity for cultural promotion between nations. Through this event, we can aid in increasing cultural awareness as a whole
while at the same time, learning, educating, and exchanging knowledge of different cultures.”
PRESERVING AND PROMOTING CULTURAL HERITAGE
During the four-day event, ICWC ‘23 will feature an International Conference with renowned speakers addressing various topics related to preserving and promoting cultural heritage.
These discussions will cover both tangible and intangible aspects of cultural heritage. Additionally, the conference will focus on strategies to enhance the economic and social well-being of all sectors involved in tourism. Emphasis will be on promoting community-based tourism and sustainable tourism development.
The conference will also provide unique slots for delegates to present their expertise in cultural work and academic research. This platform will allow them to share their experiences and insights while showcasing upcoming cultural events and projects to potential sponsors. This offers an opportunity to secure financial support for their initiatives.
ICWC ‘23’s World Class Exhibition is expected to welcome more than 10,000 visitors from all across the globe to enjoy the best distinctive cultural offerings from over 50 countries through 280 exhibits, six country pavilions, 20 traditional massage stations, 30 cultural performances, and four cultural and artistic exhibitions.
Attendees might also find themselves spoilt for choice as they can indulge in the myriad of local and traditional cuisines from all across the globe. In doing so, ICWC ‘23 can celebrate diversity and promote healthy cultural exchange while illustrating effective cultural tourism promotional strategies through the various carefully designed exhibits.
PARTICIPATION FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
The launch event of ICWC ‘23, held at Pangsapuri, Kompleks Kraf Kuala Lumpur saw the participation of numerous countries through its high commissions, consulates, and embassies based in Malaysia; these include – Argentina, Ukraine, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Namibia, Kenya, Brunei, Brazil, Maldives, Tajikistan, Iran, Eswatini, Lao, Romania, Senegal, Ghana, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Russia, Peru, and the European Union.
The presence of these respective leaders and representatives coming together as one under the ICWC ‘23 initiative filled the attendees with pride for having Malaysia take the leading role in uniting the world through culture.
Azmi expressed his gratitude: “I am honoured to see so many ambassadors, high commissioners, counsellors, and other representatives from worldwide as we launch ICWC ‘23 for the first time.
“As a country well-known for its cultural and traditional values and harmonious multi-ethnic nature, I believe it is befitting that Malaysia spearhead events such as this to unite the world for a common goal.”
“Many cultural and heritage sites suffered tremendously during Covid-19, and it is now the opportunity for us to do all within our capabilities to preserve them for future generations. At ICWC ‘23, we look forward to being a medium for all countries to showcase their unique cultures and better understand how to capitalise on economic development through cultural tourism without compromising heritage values,” he added.
ICWC ’23 is on Sept 7-10, 2023 at the MATRADE Exhibition and Convention Centre. The event is supported by MOTAC and Yayasan Hasanah and partnered with the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak.
Sponsors of ICWC ‘23 include local brands such as Pops Malaya, Life Sauces, Nixo Innovations Sdn Bhd, LWI BLUE, and Richiamo Coffee.