By: Rosli Mansor Ahmad Razali
Are we confident that the state of Perak will receive 8 million domestic tourists and 350,000 international tourists in conjunction with the Visit Perak Year 2024?
Believe it or not, that is a statement from YB Loh Sze Yee who was just appointed as Chairman of the Tourism, Industry, Investment and Corridor Development Committee from mid-November 2022.
His statement is certainly interesting but not to the local tourism industry players who have been promoting the tourism industry in the state of Perak for a long time.
Chairman of Perak Bumiputra Tourism Entrepreneurs Association (PPBPP), Zamari Muhyi thinks the statement is just meaningless.
“Achieving that target is not easy. Cooperation between the state government and the industry players must go hand in hand and continue.
“Through our observation, he only focused on the Lenggong, Gerik and Royal Belum tourism clusters. Unfortunately, the other five clusters were not taken seriously, especially the Greater Ipoh Cluster which is Batu Gajah, Kampar, Tapah and Kuala Kangsar which is considered no longer necessary to be promoted.
“What he has done so far does not directly reflect the tourism mission of the state of Perak, especially the preparations for Visit Perak Year 2024.
“He should see how the close cooperation between the industry players was before the political upheaval in this state.
“The Perak Tourism collaboration led by former Tourism Exco, Dato’ Nolee Ashilin Mohamed Radzi together with 12 tourism NGOs has previously had a great impact and has achieved the expected target,” he said.
Zamari is also upset, with YB Loh Sze Yee’s unfriendly attitude as Perak Tourism Exco towards industry players, especially tourism and accommodation product operators. He does not want to delve into the problems they are facing.
“His non-openness and carelessness in resolving the latest issues faced by industry players such as the increase in electricity costs, unlicensed accommodation operators and operational support assistance, is regrettable.
“We who are under the auspices of a tourism association, used to be given RM10,000 each year to run the program. However, now there is no more and he has abolished the incentive.
“Likewise the Local Authority (PBT) also received the same fate. They were not given allocations under the tourism unit,” he said again with a disappointed tone.
Commenting on the Tourism Exco’s recent working visit to Thailand to establish bilateral relations. Zamari said, are we ready to accept tourists from neighbouring countries?
“The aim to promote the tourism industry in Perak is good, but are we able to present the best for them when most of the tourism products in this state need to be upgraded again? But unfortunately, the local entrepreneurs are now abandoned.
“If compared to the products and services of neighbouring countries, we are indeed very different in various aspects.
“Preparations in terms of souvenirs for Visit Perak Year 2024 have yet to meet the identity that symbolizes the city of Ipoh and the state of Perak.
“Things like this should be fine-tuned because foreign tourists who come expect a sweet experience as a memory,” he stressed.
Zamari also gave his opinion that the state government should focus on ecotourism products that are currently available in the state of Perak.
He said that the state of Perak has become famous for extreme sports and adventure, especially in the districts of Gopeng, Lenggong and Ulu Slim.
Ecotourism products must be streamlined and revitalized. Entrepreneurs should be helped and not marginalized just like that.
“As we know, this year is the Visit Ipoh Year 2023, unfortunately, there is no proper preparation.
“The issue of murals that have been abandoned for a long time just passed. Help individuals or NGOs who produce mural art repair damaged and eroded murals.
“Reactivate the city of Ipoh as a creative and artistic city. Ipoh used to be famous as a hipster town and now it needs to be redeveloped with cafes with different concepts to show the diversity of culture and taste.
“I am sure that if he is still dreaming of only seeing the tourism market from neighbouring countries and not paying attention to local products, it is certain that the target of 8 million tourism visits is just a conversation in a coffee shop and a waste of time!,” he said.