“First things first, we need to identify our identity. Ipoh is a whole lot more than just a scrumptious plate of chicken bean sprouts and a good cup of white coffee,” remarked Executive Councillor for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Tan Kar Hing.
Coming up with a long-term tourism master plan requires holistic planning. With all the established products and international recognitions Ipoh itself has gotten by Lonely Planet, NY Times and more, it becomes more of a reason for tourists to make their way here. Tan believes that Perak has two strengths: heritage and ecotourism.
“There’s always a story behind a building and that makes Ipoh interesting. Also, with over 50 waterfalls and limestones that have been around for more than millions of years, hopefully we’ll get the second national geopark recognition after Langkawi. We have splendid beaches, iconic railway stations and hills, we just need to focus more on these advantages and figure out ways to utilise them,” he continued.
Thus, the plan is to rebrand the whole idea of Ipoh, that it is not just another stop for food trails and sightseeing. People need to stay for a few nights to experience the whole laid back vibe Ipoh has to offer. Tan is also planning an iconic annual programme to represent Perakeans for its blend of culture and stories.
“For a start, our people need to be aware of the places we have here so they can spread the word. As to promote our state internationally, we’ll be needing a strong team onboard to focus on social media to produce good photos, videos and write ups by well-known writers. We also want to produce multilingual flyers to cater to tourists from all over,” Tan said.
His hopes include having the tourism industry to generate income to the locals and getting more tourists to visit Ipoh. As museums and libraries will be one of his core focus, he looks at Sabah as our benchmark.