Congratulations to Perak’s newly-appointed tourism exco Tan Kar Hing for being spot-on by planning to integrate tourism products at various popular destinations in Perak.
The traditional method of promoting a tourism product is to show a picture and as many words as possible in a given space, whether in an electronic or printed brochure, or signboards erected at various sites.
It is useful for those who wish to look for such information but do not attract or facilitate visits, as tourists could not fly there like a bird.
They need to know how to get there on their own or by public transport, and better still a package tour with inclusive accommodation and recommendations on the best local food and nearby attractions within a given time.
And all these could be accomplished by developing state-of-the-art destination apps for the various districts of Perak, which could provide all the interesting and useful information in an organised manner and easily accessible with a few clicks of the button.
Once ready, these destination apps would have global reach and attract visitors from all over the country and throughout the world. The apps would allow users to plan the most suitable options of where to go, eat, shop, play and stay.
They could also book and pay online and upon arrival, the app could be used as navigational aid without having to keep asking the locals for direction or information.
Local food stalls and restaurants featured would have a history of the founders and their passion for cooking, particularly signature dishes. Likewise, unique local handicrafts and foods could also attract visitors who wish to learn how to make or cook them.
This would allow visitors to immerse in local traditions and culture, as many tourists are seeking experiential tourism by interacting with people, which is beyond watching so-called cultural dances which are nothing more than staged shows with dancers wearing staged costumes.
The photos and videos in the app will give the real face of tourism, by featuring residents and the community, their cultures and traditions, and flora and fauna in areas rich with wildlife.
Every town and village should have a tourism centre where the best local foods, fruits, crafts and other produce could be sold. It would attract tourists to such one-stop centres without wasting time looking high and low for them.
Every town and village have an interesting and unique story to tell regarding its early history and settlers, but most Malaysians are clueless on the contributions of their ancestors or the people named in roads and streets around the neighbourhood.
Every spot-on earth could attract tourists if the story is interesting and reached the right audience. Tan hit the nail on the head when he stressed the importance of building narratives and storylines.