September 29, 2019
Borneo Post Online : Township benefits from SibuJaya Fest spinoffs
Township benefits from SibuJaya Fest spinoffs


Sempurai (left) with the beauty pageant winners during the festival. From fourth left are councillor Kong Yii Tee and SRDC secretary Justani Joni.

FESTIVALS generate economic and social benefits that are easiest to see and the visitors they attract help stimulate the growth of tourism and other businesses in a town or a region.

The SibuJaya Festival is certainly no different. The event has always pulled in the crowd when it’s held in the satellite town.

Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) chairman Sempurai Petrus Ngelai said the festival had immense potential to be a revenue earner for the growing residential suburb.

“I could see the economic spinoffs from the SibuJaya Festival, given the influx of visitors during the two-week event,” he told thesundaypost.

The three-in-one festival was recently organised in the township of SibuJaya featuring fun-filled activities for the whole family.

Karnival Ambang Merdeka 2019, hosted by Embun Kiara, ran from Aug 22 to Sept 8, SRDC organised the SibuJaya Festival from Aug 30-31, and the Fun 5 Fiesta, sponsored by Amcorp SibuJaya (formerly Distrepark Sdn Bhd), the master developer of SibuJaya, was from Aug 31 to Sept 1.

Winners of the Strongman Competition.

Community-based festivals

Susan Lewis wrote in the Lewis & Sears Marketing & Event Inc website that besides being fun, well-managed festivals and events offer a host of economic and social benefits to communities.

According to her, festivals attract visitors, and visitors spend money which spurs the local economy both on and off the festival site.

On-site and off-site spending related to festivals generate revenue for communities. Visitors stop at local petrol stations, souvenir shops, and restaurants. The list goes on.

A Strongman Competition participant shows off his strength.
Overnight visitors provide another source of off-site revenue to communities that host festivals.

For example, the 2012 Filberg Festival in Comox was reported to have generated over US$1 million of economic benefits to the Comox Valley.

The Filberg Festival has always been known for its long-standing tradition of featuring exceptional Canadian talents when it comes to entertainment.

Free perks

Festivals also provide free marketing and advertising for local businesses as visitors talk about their experiences when they return home.

The economic benefits of a successful festival ripple throughout a local economy, impacting both tourism and non-tourism-related businesses alike.

Sempurai said SibuJaya needed fiestas to stimulate growth and make it a vibrant satellite town, adding, “The township needs this kind of festivals to boost its economy for long-term development.”

Equally important

The social benefits of festivals are less visible but just as important. In this context, the SibuJaya Festival is an ideal platform to promote racial harmony and unity.

People from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds can intermingle while enjoying the entertainment programmes.

Sempurai said the social benefits of the SibuJaya Festival could be seen from the interactions among the different communities.

“This is the beauty of the Sarawak culture. The reciprocal relationship will promote inter-communal goodwill and peaceful co-existence.”

He recalled the SibuJaya township was started as a low-cost housing estate but transformed into a modern and vibrant township under Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s visionary planning.

In this regard, the SRDC chairman called on residents to continue supporting the council’s efforts to grow the township.

SibuJaya now has a police station, clinics, libraries, supermarkets, and schools. A fire station is in the works.

Sempurai opined the township holds great promise as an ideal place to start a business and build a family home.

The Strongman Competition is a crowd puller.

Tourism calendar

He said the festival is still not in the tourism calendar but assured that SRDC together with stakeholders such as Amcorp SibuJaya would look into promoting the SibuJaya Festival as a yearly event, focusing on several popular events, including the Strongman Competition.

“The Strongman Competition has been a signature event for Pesta SibuJaya since two years ago, having attracted 12 participants, including five from the peninsula and two from Sabah.”

He said the festival also involved the Strongwoman Contest, Blowpipe Contest, Fun Cycling, Big Bike Show, and Ratu Sibu Jaya Beauty Pageant with the support of Embun Kiara.

Councillor Kong Yii Tee tries her skills at using the blowpipe with SRDC secretary Justani Joni (foreground) lending a hand.

“We will look into organising a bigger festival. It has to be planned early with all the stakeholders. We also need the support of the Local Government and Housing Ministry and the Tourism Ministry.”

Sempurai said the Amcorp SibuJaya Fun 5 attracted a lot of youths to its water fiesta – an event that would be one of the main attractions for future SibuJaya Festivals.

He acknowledged that the collaboration between SRDC, Amcorp SibuJaya, and Embun Kiara had made this year’s SibuJaya Festival a success, stressing “such collaboration is pivotal to sustaining the vibrancy of the event”.

Way forward

Sempurai said SRDC needs to work with all stakeholders to make the SibuJaya Festival an event for all the township’s residents.

He assured that SRDC would work with the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) to “make Sibu a great place in terms of development” as suggested by Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian.

Such a cooperation, he said, would benefit the people under both councils.

A section of the crowd at the water fiesta.

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