The success of the “Visit Perak Year 2012”, which has been slotted for next year in the country’s tourism calendar, can only be achieved with the full support of all local authorities in the state.
Each and every one of the local authorities must take stock of the tourist attractions available in their respective area and ensure that they are not only properly spruced up but also well maintained.
All entry points into the various districts, such as airports, railway stations and bus terminals, need to be kept clean and efficient, to make a good impression on visitors.
It is therefore seen as appropriate for the chairman of state tourism committee, Dato’ Hamidah Othman, to have recently hit out at the local authorities in Perak for not contributing to the improvement of the tourism industry.
“Only two local authorities, Taiping and Manjong, have made the effort to develop their tourist industry,” she declared. According to her even Kampar and Grik which have strong tourism potential, are not doing enough to tap the tourist value.
Hamidah gave the example of Grik which had excellent tourist products, Belum Rainforest and Temenggor Lake, but poor logistics made it difficult for tourists to access the products. Hamidah also commented that Ipoh City Council too could do more to improve its tourism sector.
However, we cannot expect much from the local authorities as they have their own priorities – which are to provide efficient service and good infrastructure to their residents.
Local authorities in Perak are not rich and rely largely on federal grants. They barely have sufficient funds to carry out minor development projects to the expectation of the residents in their respective districts.
The best they can do towards promoting tourism is to keep the areas under their jurisdiction beautiful and clean. But, sad to say, most of them cannot even provide this, let alone devote their attention to tourism development.
On the other hand, the state tourism committee was set up with the specific purpose of developing tourism in the state. With a state executive councillor in charge of tourism, the tourism committee certainly has the backing of the state government.
Therefore, it is essential for the state to have a dynamic and effective tourism committee to identify tourism potentials for development in the various districts. Only the tourism committee can co-ordinate the local authorities and private sector to develop and promote tourist attractions in the state.
Having just an aggressive publicity drive will not be sufficient. The state needs to carry out some ‘spring cleaning’ as well, before presenting itself for the Visit Perak Year 2012, themed “Green Tourism, Yours To Discover – Nature and Heritage”. The ground work in making the various tourist sites available and ready should be completed before the year end.
We need to upgrade all tourism facilities and attractions in the state. Every aspect of tourism, including the human factor, must be geared towards making the visitors’ stay in the state a pleasant and memorable one.
As the state is endowed with many seaside and island resorts, lakes, limestone hills and cave temples, archaeological sites, and nature parks among them, various attractive tour packages, encouraging tourists to spend more time in the state, must be made available and promoted. The tour packages can include stays in the seaside resorts in Lumut and Pangkor Island, in the Belum rainforest resorts, and adventure with nature involving caving, white-water rafting, river cruises to traditional fishing villages and abseiling at a waterfall.
Well, with Tourism Perak Management Bhd. already being revamped and tasked to spearhead the tourism promotion drive with an experienced general manager, Mohamed Hisam bin Mohamad Yusof, I am confident that the long neglected tourism industry in Perak will now be able to move ahead.
All players in the tourism industry in the state, including those who had in the past been only interested in outbound tours, could work closely to promote Perak within the country and abroad.
The Visit Perak Year is not just about a “one-off” campaign; it should be treated as the start of a long drawn major effort to lure tourists to the state. Its success can then be measured by the number of tourists coming into the state in subsequent years, after next year’s Visit Perak Year.