Tourism is one of the world’s largest fast-growing industries and it is sectors that generate the highest income in our countries. In many countries, it acts as an engine for development through foreign exchange earnings and also it is a determining factor in the economic growth. Meanwhile, festival plays a significant role in developing the tourism industry. It is widely regarded as a potential economic base as it provides a variety of activities that can generate income and develop the sectors of particular economic sector in the country. The relationship between festival and tourism is getting stronger. According to Felsenstein and Fleischer (2003), local festivals are increasingly being used as instruments for promoting tourism and boosting the regional economy.
One of the famous cultural festivals in Sarawak is Borneo Rainforest World Music Festival. This festival has been an important festival in Sarawak. Recently, Borneo Rainforest Music Festival or known as RWMF has paid a lot attention to elaboration of various initiative, cultural programs and incentive to increase the number of tourist. Borneo Rainforest World Music Festival has a great potential in tourism sector. These festivals are really known among the foreign tourist and this festival considered to contribute significantly to the cultural and economic development wealth of the Sarawak. Also, this festival has major impacts on the development of cultural tourism and creates a various contribution to the tourism industries.
First and foremost, this festival is a great market for attracting tourism. The potential of Borneo Rainforest Music Festival were to help with economic revitalization, place marketing, investment, and tourism revenue generation especially during off-peak season. The demand for this festival usually occurs during the spring or summer, since most of the tourist finds a place for vacation. Due to the increased popularity, RWMF has become a summer festival. We believe that this festival is very important to establish a good marketing activity during the summer, because most of the tourists take part in such festival during that season. In 2016, RWMF received a Communications Director Asia-Pacific Excellence Award in the “Event & Experiential Marketing” category.
Besides that, Borneo Rainforest Music Festival was known as Music festivals. The music festival has been a key aspect of tourism industries. These festivals organized a live music performance that accompanied by many foreign musicians and unique special events that can attract many visitors. RWMF attempts to develop unique tourism products that will differentiate it from other competing tourism spots. These indirectly provides an opportunity for our countries to work together with foreign countries and expanding the cooperation and ties around the world. Therefore, the festival has gained international acknowledgement, since the number of well-known foreign performers has been increasing and as well as the share of the audience from abroad. Furthermore, the success of the World Music Festival held in Sarawak proved the country’s ability to organize international events. This international event should be held more frequently and made as an annual event. In this way, it represents a very good possibility for the development of the sector that may result in increasing incomes and increasing popularity for the whole country.
After that, RWMF can promote tourism growth and expansion. These festivals have made a significant impact on the tourism sector in this country. Through this festival , the numerous participants and the number of tourists and visitors during the festival were increasing from year to year. The attractiveness of this festival and events successfully pulled a great number of visitors. RWMF is now one of the largest music festivals in Malaysia with a total audience reaching 30,000. Hence, this festival provides an excellence booster securing higher prominence in the global tourism marketplace. RWMF has become a new attraction for the spectators. This festival shows the unique and interesting heritage, music, history and place to the world participants and visitors. Moreover, this festival also helps in increasing and boosting Sarawak image and status in the eyes of the world.
Next, the most obvious contribution of RWMF to local tourism industry is the realm of economic welfare, where the increasing local income and employment arising from increased visitor volumes often. In many instances, the aggregate measure of income and employment change attributable to the festival. The expenditure and spending of tourists are able to increase national income through shopping taxes, accommodation taxes, food taxes and also through foreign exchange. Therefore, the festival is not just to improving the tourism industry sector but also to become one of the country’s leading economies and is the source of the country’s foreign exchange. Tourists coming from foreign countries should convert their national currency into Ringgit Malaysia currency before being able to spend here. Foreign currency inflows to our country not only benefit business entities but it is even can be used to buy basic necessities for locals from overseas. No doubt that the source of growth in Sarawak economy is the expenditure that occurs locally due to the production of this festival.
According to Myerscough (1998: 80), ‘Arts creates attractions for tourism and tourism providing additional audiences for art’. Cultural tourism festival is applied in RWMF in order to maintain interest in the culture while increasing revenues in the tourism sector. In recent years, the used of cultural festivals as an instrument for tourism development was truly famous. For this reason, these festivals are used by tourism promoters to help increase demand for tourism and at the same time recreate a good image of Sarawak that contributes to its market position. The other special event held in this festival attracted tourists to learn more about Sarawak culture and even tourists are interested in visiting places in Sarawak while at the same time providing an enjoyable experience. Thus, this festival has inadvertently helped the tourism sector to introduce the beauty and attraction available in Sarawak.
Other than that, Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) will increase the sales of tourism sector in Malaysia. RWMF increased the sales, income or jobs in sectors within the region that supply goods and services. RWMF is an annual event organized by the Sarawak Tourism Board, this event is organized in Santubong which is located about 25 km from the city centre within the City of Kuching. Normally, this festival conducted within three day’s festivals, various programs and activities are organized for the participants. These include cultural and traditional music workshops during the daytime, traditional music performances, by individuals and groups from various parts of the world, during the night time, and sales of local products and souvenirs. This festival will attract many visitors from every part of country around the world. The more number of tourist, the more ticket of the festival will be sold. RWMF not only increase tourism sales but also increase restaurant, hotel and transportation income. Increased in tourist expenditure, the restaurant, hotel and transportation sales also increased.
In addition, the festival also provides a wider job opportunity in the tourism sector. This festival requires a lot of workforce such as hotel workers, tour guides, souvenir shops and handicraft shop workers. The development of this tourism industry further promotes the increasing demand for workforce that have been trained and experienced in tourism industry at the level of management and supervision and the group of skilled and semi-skilled workers. This festival also provides business opportunities for the local people. It is indirectly helps generate income and the economy of the locals with their participation in the festival. For example, local people can provide businesses such as transport, food and drink shop, flowers, handicrafts, and so on. Thus, this can reduce the rate of unemployment in our country. At the same time, the people’s standard of living will also increase.
In conclusion, through this festival, it can carry out massive promotions to introduce Sarawak to the outside world and this indirectly helps tourism in promoting a state. Through the mass media, the festival will easily promoted to foreign tourists and even to the local community. This will help the tourism Sarawak to promote Sarawak as an attractive tourist destination and increase tourist arrivals. It undeniable that a place or country will be easily recognizable if we trying to promote it. This promotion can be done through mass media within the country and abroad.