Tag Archives: VPY 2012

Visit Perak Year 2012 logo

Appraising VPY 2012

Share

Visit Perak Year 2012 logoBy Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2012 is now in its third month of operation and in nine months it will come to a close. Whether this year-long endeavour to increase tourist arrivals in Perak meets its defined targets is open to debate. Given the fluidity of activities organised to complement the event, it may be a little premature to appraise Tourism Perak’s performance at this juncture. A correct judgment will not be forthcoming unless factors such as timing, preparedness and mood are taken into account. These factors inhibit VPY 2012 and will make or break the resolve of those responsible.

It was with this aim in mind that prompted Fathil Ghani, the hard-pressed Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Perak, to call for a meeting with media chiefs recently. The significance of the dialogue, held in a purpose-built limestone cave at Sunway’s Lost World of Tambun, was not lost in transition. The ambiance surrounding the seemingly claustrophobic cave was most conducive, as it encouraged the attendees to speak their minds out, literally.

Visit Perak Year 2012The reorganised Tourism Perak Management Berhad (TPMB), with Fathil at the helm, became operational only in mid-August 2011. For reasons of expedience, TPMB was placed under the control of the State Secretary and is responsible directly to the Executive Councillor of Tourism for the implementation of tourism-related activities/policies in Perak. Two other agencies are similarly responsible for tourism in the state. They are Tourism Malaysia (Perak) and Ministry of Tourism Perak Branch. In the heydays there was the state tourism council which presided over all three agencies. Over and above this, and acting on a more partisan platform, is the Perak Tourism Association, a non-governmental organisation that acts as a conduit between the government and the tourism sector.

The presence of these bodies did little to overcome the public’s misconception of tourism management in the state. Many are still unclear of the roles and responsibilities of each agency. After having interacted with Fathil for the last eight months I am a little better than the average Perakean. Tourism Perak is the agency that calls the shots insofar as touristic activities in Perak are concerned. The other agencies are only in support. It is at the beck and call of the Executive Councillor of Tourism, Dato’ Hamidah Osman. That explains why Fathil is in the thick of the action. Wherever Hamidah is, Fathil is there. Previous heads were not as conspicuous. The reason is simple – they could not fit in.

The meeting at the Tambun theme park’s Kapura Cave saw some exciting exchanges which would have been summarily dismissed had it been held at a more formal location. Questions on VPY 2012’s visibility and on tourist arrivals were raised. Fathil provided the answers and though they were not to our expectation, at least we all agreed to disagree.

Visit Perak Year 2012 - Royal Belum World Drums FestivalA number of billboards extolling the virtues of VPY 2012 have been erected and placed along highways and byways. But the number is too few and far between to make an impact. “This is the reason why there is very little aura in Ipoh and in the state,” said Jalal, the Berita Harian chief. Awareness creation is essential, he reasoned as people need to be constantly reminded of the auspicious occasion.

“To date 70 tourist-related activities have been organised and more are in the pipeline,” said Fathil. Activities at district and council levels are also being planned. The success of these programmes is dependent upon the creativity and determination of the district and council heads. “They have been forewarned not by Hamidah alone but by the MB himself,” Fathil intimated.

If anything, the two-hour meeting revealed some interesting facts about VPY 2012. Foremost, it is planned with some finesse but implementation is being hampered by jitteriness and indecision. Subsequently, the full potential of Tourism Perak is not yet realised.

These are teething problems, which must be overcome if VPY 2012 is to see the light of day.  That was the consensus of those at the meeting.

Launch of VPY 2012

Share

Launch of Visit Perak Year 2012Launch of Visit Perak Year 2012Visit Perak Year 2012 was officially launched on Saturday, February 11 at the Dataran MBI, Ipoh. Over a thousand people thronged the square to witness the ceremony which was graced by Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Executive Councillor for Tourism and Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim.

“We hope to attract more tourists to Perak. Ipoh has its own uniqueness. Heritage buildings in the city are a huge attraction. They’re maintained and continuously upgraded, in the hope that more people would come and see them,” she said.

Thirty one programmes are planned throughout the year. Among the highlights are the recently concluded Royal Belum Drums Festival, the Ipoh International Run in July and the International Youth Rainforest Exploration in November.

Sunway Lost World of Tambun to Promote VPY 2012

Share

Sunway Lost World of Tambun has become the first corporation to promote Visit Perak Year 2012 and in a big way too with a Family Countdown Festival 2012.

The Festival is organized by event management company Tango Team with sponsorship from Digi and has the full support from Perak Tourism. The Countdown starts on the evening of December 31 and promises a host of fun performances for the whole family.
State Exco for Tourism Dato’ Hamidah Osman commended the Management of Lost World of Tambun for promoting the VPY 2012 event and called upon more corporations “to emulate the effort of Lost World of Tambun by coming forward to participate and promote VPY 2012.”
Lost World of Tambun Senior Operations Manager Mr Ramiah Singaram lamented that in other states when he enquired from acquaintances if they had been to the Lost World Tambun they answered positively, but this was not so in Perak where the common answer was “not yet”.

Ramiah added that the resort was targeting for 10,000 visitors on that night and to promote the event it would be “handing out 2,000 free tickets for Year 5 students from five schools around Ipoh.” The performances on that night will see appearances by Hong Kong Artiste, Ms Chu Mi Mi of Rejoicing & Jolly Talk Show, Singer Mr Mohan and Irene Hong, champion of Astro Classic song Contest 2008. Additional activities will feature a 124 Chinese Drum Performance, a Luminous Dragon Dance in the Mid of Smoggy Pool, clowns and many more. Also, the Resorts’ popular attractions will be open to the public such as wave pool, hot springs and game stalls.

For more information on the event, contact Tango Team at 05-5467722, Sunway Lost World of Tambun Ipoh at 05-542 8888 or Taiping Sentral Mall Management at 05-8099333 or 012-588 0405.

JAG

VPY 2012 Countdown – Photography Competition

Share

Perak Tourism, in collaboration with the Society of Foto Imej Perak (FIP), has organised a photography competition in conjunction with Visit Perak Year 2012.

The competition was launched recently and attended by Senior Exco for Tourism Dato’ Hamidah Osman and officials from Perak Tourism and FIP Society.

The competition is open to all photographers and focuses on the 10 icons of Perak.

In her message Dato’ Hamidah hoped that a lot of keen photographers would participate in order to enable a “photo bank of quality photographs which will be used to promote the beautiful attractions in the state which can also include heritage and culture”. The photographs submitted will subsequently be used for billboards and brochures to promote tourism in the state.

A grand prize of RM10,000 awaits the winner of the competition while the first prize winner will take away RM5,000, runner up RM3,000 and third prize RM2,000. There will also be 10 merit prizes with a value of RM500 each.

The closing date of the competition is December 17 and the presentation of prizes is scheduled for New Year’s Day which is also the launch of Visit Perak Year.

Entry forms for the competition can be downloaded from FIP Society’s website at www.fip.org.my.

JAG

Help Make VPY 2012 A Success

Share

The launch of the Perak Tourism Newsletter by Dato’ Hamidah Osman on July 26 at Heritage Hotel, Ipoh is most timely in view of Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2012. Hamidah’s message in the inaugural issue of the newsletter reinforces the state government’s commitment in making the event a reality despite the predictions of the many “doomsayers”.

Tourism is a major money spinner and this is a fact. For the tourism industry to flourish, the assistance of ordinary Perakeans and non-governmental organisations must be sought and galvanised. Organisations such as Rotary International, Lions Club International, Kiwanis International, Y’s Men’s Club and other leading NGOs, whose membership runs into the millions worldwide, is the icing on the cake. Circulars can be sent to all these organisations inviting them to come to Perak next year.

Y’s Men’s Club of Ipoh has taken the initiative to do the needful by writing to our headquarters in Geneva alerting them of VPY 2012. A couple, who are members of the Bjert chapter in Denmark, Beat Junker Hansen and Ruth Elizabeth paid a visit to the Silver state in early November. They were taken to all the published touristic landmarks in the state. The sights that impressed them most were the many heritage buildings in Kuala Kangsar. This was made possible by the availability of Perak Tourism Newsletter Volume 4 which highlighted the royal town of Kuala Kangsar.

My take on VPY 2012: let’s join hands and make it a roaring success.

K. Letchimanan

Icons May Be Ready But Are All Systems Go?

Share

By James Gough

Over the last two months, Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Perak’s State Executive Councillor for Tourism, together with her team from Tourism Perak, have been going around the state checking on all 10 Tourist Icons of Perak to ensure the state is ready for the anticipated influx of 5 million tourists targeted for Visit Perak Year 2012. Well, the products may be ready but are the service providers that provide the feeder services also ready?

Ancillary Services Critical to Success of VPY 2012

While Hamidah has traversed the whole state from Gua Tempurung, Gopeng to Royal Belum in Grik and took in the Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar and Pangkor Island as well, all part of the 10 Tourist Icons of Perak, questions arise as to the ancillary services, such as: Are the buses and taxis that physically transport visitors to the icons available? Are there sufficient tour guides around to explain to visitors the wonderful points of our tourism products and in the visitor’s native tongue? Are the local tour agents supportive in promoting and ferrying inbound tourists to the 10 icons?

Meanwhile, the promotions for all these sites have been moving along, such as: wrap-around buses highlighting VPY 2012; billboards on the highway, between KL and Ipoh, portraying alluring Pangkor Island; and similarly displayed at KLIA, LCCT, Singapore and KL Sentral.

In actual fact the entire state machinery has been working towards the success of VPY 2012, with MB Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abdul Kadir chairing a meeting at his residence one night before a public holiday where all state executive councillors and district councils were present.

However, a recent negative report by Ipoh Echo about the inadequacies of the service provided by the Tourist Information Centre at Ipoh Padang, and a recent outburst by the Chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Tour Agents Association, has glaringly highlighted a disconnect to ensure the success of VPY 2012.

Kidd Road

Tourism is About Pleasant Memories

Tourism is all about pleasant memories. Tourists who have enjoyed their visits will go home and tell a few friends and would consider coming for a second visit. On the other hand, it is a well-known marketing fact that a dissatisfied tourist will tell many more people to avoid a destination like the plague.

Recently, Ipoh Echo received feedback from a visitor about difficulty visiting the Icons of Perak. The visitor is what the industry terms as FIT or Foreign Individual Tourist. She tried enquiring about getting on a local tour but was told that if she could get a group together, then the local operator could organise one. To get to the the Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar, the only option she had was to hire a taxi that would take her to the places of interest. The taxi man did take her to a few of the locations on the brochure and the tourist felt very disgruntled as she felt that the price she paid for four hours of the taxi time was way too high since the actual travel time to and from Kuala Kangsar took up at least one and a half hours, and not enough time was left to explore the sights.

Similarly for Gua Tempurung, getting there was the problem. There was no public bus service so it was by taxi and at higher cost. Fortunately, there was a group of students at Gua Tempurung that morning so she paid the nominal group tour fare and joined the guided tour.

But should a tourist have to put up with the hassle of having to ‘search’ for transport to get them to a tourist site? Logically after spending millions to promote the tourist sites the next step should be to make the sites as easily accessible as possible.

Tourism Retreat Findings

In April this year MOTOUR Perak, a branch of the Ministry of Tourism together with NGOs and the State Government organised a Perak Tourism Retreat. Its goal was to analyse the tourism industry state-wide and make recommendations on the way forward. Identifying the six tourism clusters, Northern Perak, Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Ipoh, Pangkor and Kampung Gajah, was one of the results of the Retreat.

Buying a bus ticket to Lumut

Inadequate Bus Services

Another finding from the Retreat was the inadequate bus services. Although a bus service was available to the various Districts it did not extend directly to the tourist sites themselves. Some examples are: Gua Tempurung, Gopeng, Banding Lake at Royal Belum or Lenggong Museum, all of which are a considerable distance from the main roads.

Similarly for Ipoh, although there is a bus service, commuters say that the bus schedules are not published and do not run on time. Commuters are unaware of the Ipoh City Tour bus service, although it was launched in the middle of this year, to ferry visitors and tourists to and from their hotels to popular places of interest, food courts and restaurants.

The alternative mode is to use a taxi. However, taxi fares here do not run on a meter and are at the whim and fancy of taxi operators.

Kidd Road Bus Terminal

Entry Points and First Impressions

The Retreat also identified Ipoh to be the ‘main gateway into the state” as the airport, railway station and express bus companies are located here. The recommendation proposed was to ‘create a tourism-focused area in Ipoh’ from which to ferry visitors ‘to other tourist attractions in the state’.

Of the three transport modes, the express buses ferry the most number of visitors or commuters into the state annually and is said to be several millions more when compared to air and rail modes.

Medan Gopeng Bus Terminal

Unfortunately, the entry points for bus commuters at Medan Gopeng and Kidd Road Bus Terminus, provide a most dismal first impression of Ipoh due to its shabby image and haphazard operations structure.

A check with Dato’ Samsuddin Hashim, the Chief Executive of Perak State Development Corporation, the owners of Medan Gopeng terminal, confirmed that the Corporation will be taking over the management of the terminal but, due to an on-going ‘legal issue’, the upgrading of the bus terminal area can only be carried out after the first quarter of next year.

Samsuddin added that the upgrading plans included discussions with Ipoh City Council and the Drainage and Irrigation Department who would look into the large drain adjacent to the road before entering the bus parking bay.

The immediate plan is to relocate the hawker stalls currently outside the complex into the Silveritage Complex area and landscape the exterior. This will be completed by December.

Ipoh Airport is currently under expansion and is scheduled for completion by September next year.

Tour Agents and Inbound Tours

There is a perception that local travel agents promote more outbound than inbound tours. “Not so,” says MATTA Perak Chairman Ranjit Singh, adding that its members do promote inbound packages. The inbound tour charge is around RM200 and usually “caters to a van load which is approximately 6-8 passengers” at a rate of RM25-RM35 per head.

Tour Guides

The role of the tour guide is to bring life to a product. All tour guides are licensed and can practise throughout the country. The Ministry of Tourism has a guideline that for any coach with more than 8 passengers it must be accompanied by a tour guide. According to several sources this ruling is being implemented strictly in KL and Penang but not so in Perak.

Private Sector Participation

According to Syahruddin Abdul Hamid, the Director of MOTOUR Perak Office, the Tourism Industry is very much a “Private Sector Led Industry”. Hence in order to ensure that VPY 2012 succeeds in meeting its goals, a dialogue must be held with all the stakeholders and industry players to iron out all the ‘disconnects’ in the system.

A check with Dato’ Hamidah acknowledged that she was aware of the issue and would be sitting with all the industry players. “Let us not forget that 2013 is Visit Malaysia Year. Lets fine tune during 2012 and reap the full benefits for 2013,” added Hamidah.