From the Editor’s Desk
By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
This is the tagline of the recent Tourism Perak – sponsored seminar, or a more pleasant alternative, retreat, held at the Swiss Garden Golf Resort and Spa in Damai Laut, Lumut. The remoteness of the holiday resort, located on an elevated promontory overlooking Pangkor Island, lends credence to it being classified a retreat.
Once inside, guests have little access with the outside world as getting to Sitiawan, the nearest town requires a bumpy ride along a winding road that runs for over 20 kilometres amidst a lush tropical jungle interspersed with oil palm and fast-disappearing rubber trees.
So a respite lasting three days and two nights is a retreat in every sense of the word. However, defining the word “retreat” is of no consequence if the significance of the meeting of tourism players in Perak is lost in transition.
The primary objective of the seminar was to get all those involved in the state tourism industry to sit together, deliberate over pressing issues and come up with some workable solutions to address problems affecting the industry, per se.
“It’s not about reinventing the wheel,” said one rather disinterested participant. He was right. As far as my memory takes me, this must be the umpteenth time I have attended a seminar or forum or retreat on tourism. Therefore, the word holds no special meaning to those who have been exposed to the subject.
“It’s not the form that matters but the substance,” uttered another. His rankling was not without reasons. Obviously, he was riled by the lackadaisical attitude of those entrusted with the implementation of resolutions passed and adopted during past meetings. The nagging question on the minds of the hundred-odd participants who had gathered at the resort’s spacious ballroom that Sunday evening was whether the ostentatious retreat would go the way of previous get-togethers – all talk but no action.
I was a little skeptical but acceded nonetheless. To me it was the infusion of new blood that prompted me to sit out and listen. On the podium was the newly-minted Executive Councillor for Health, Tourism and Culture, Ms Nolee Ashilin Dato’ Mohd Radzi, the assemblywoman for Tualang Sekah.
She is like a breath of fresh air. Coming from a family of politicians and a father who once held the same portfolio under Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib, youthful Nolee has the panache, the wherewithal and the desire to see things through. She exhibited her flair by playing some catchy video clips on tourism. It caught the audience’s attention. She knew what she was talking about. We were thrilled.
Being young and blessed with a solid academic grounding, Nolee seems the right candidate for the hot seat. I have no qualms about her credentials. She has an honours degree in accounting and finance from one of the top twenty universities in the United Kingdom, Manchester Metropolitan University. She also holds a master’s degree in business management from Edith Cowen University, Perth, Australia.
The lady is a pedigree, a thoroughbred. But like a rough diamond it requires polishing. Nolee’s willingness to listen to the woes of one very aggrieved tour agent from Pangkor Island provides a likeable preview of things to come. My only hope is she will rise to the occasion as Visit Malaysia Year 2014 is less than six months away. There is plenty to be done and getting things done the right way is no mean task. It requires the support of all, especially the staff of Tourism Perak which she heads.
Although my presence at the seminar was merely to listen and to report I got into the thick of the action, nonetheless. Preserving heritage buildings, antiquated machineries, traditions and cultures was one of the subjects for discussion.
The monstrous tin dredge idling on a man-made lake in Tanjung Tualang and nicknamed TT5 (Tanjung Tualang 5) was the focus of our attention. Neglected and left to rot in the unforgiving tropical sun, TT5 is on the verge of sinking into the murky waters unless works to rehabilitate it are taken. Its touristic potentials, unfortunately, are being overlooked by its stakeholders. If nothing is done this “indomitable legacy of the tin era” will end at the bottom of the lake.
Cross selling TT5 with the lacklustre herbal garden, the over-indulged Kellie’s Castle, the tasty prawn dishes of Tanjung Tualang and the breathtaking vistas of Kinta Nature Park is one way to promote heritage-rich Perak to the world. These iconic features, fortunately, are found along the Simpang Pulai-Batu Gajah-Tanjung Tualang road.
Yang Berhormat Nolee, we have made our intentions known. The ball is now in your court.