When Visit Perak Year was announced by State tourism chairman, Dato’ Hamidah Othman and reported in the July 16 issue of Ipoh Echo, she said that locals must think Tourism and do Tourism. “Visit Perak Year 2012 will involve the whole state,” stressed Hamidah. “We need to create awareness throughout the state and have the local residents as well as local councils to participate.” So Ipoh Echo set out to investigate exactly what plans have been made by Ipoh city Council in anticipation of VPY 2012.
Mayor Serious about Visit Perak Year 2012
At the last full Board Meeting of Ipoh City Council on August 26, Ipoh Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim stated it was serious about getting ready for Visit Perak year 2012. In this regard, he recently returned from a visit to Xiamen, Fujian and Shenyang China as part of a Ministry of Tourism’s “Sales Mission to China” delegation led by Tourism Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. One of the products that Roshidi promoted about Ipoh was its food as part of Tourism Malaysia’s “Fabulous Food 1 Malaysia” programme.
Roshidi also announced that the Tourism Ministry had provided Ipoh City Council a sum of RM3.8 million to upgrade its tourism related facilities around town though most of it was focused around Old Town specifically along the heritage trail as per Map 1.
Railway Station Park
The park at the Railway Station which is the start of the Heritage Trail has been proposed to be given a facelift by re-landscaping the garden area. The existing water fountain at the garden, which hasn’t been working for a long time, will be upgraded. It was proposed that it be replaced with a musical fountain, but the decision is still pending.
The garden where the Birch Memorial is located has been proposed to be extended to the Old Post Office Building currently being repaired by Jabatan Warisan Negara. The food stalls collectively named “Medan Selera Dato Sagor” will be relocated to the area closer to the elevated car park. The elevated car park, which was the “First Elevated Car Park” in the country” will not be touched.
When the Old Post Office upgrade is completed together with the extended Birch Memorial garden, the road stretching from the Railway Station and Town Hall right down to the steps of Sheik Adam Lane after the Birch Memorial, will be an interesting gallery of history.
Panglima (Concubine) Lane
The plan for Concubine Lane was to upgrade the lane with granite cobblestones and install decorative lighting along the lane. Work was scheduled to start this month but due to the collapse of two shop lots in the lane earlier this month, work has been postponed pending a safety study by JKR.
Heritage Trail Upgrade
The sidewalk of the Heritage Trail has been proposed for an upgrade to “imprint tiles”. This will be for the entire length per Heritage Trail Map 1. The sidewalk tiles will have a Heritage Trail logo imprinted at regular intervals. Each Heritage building along the trail will have its own plaque describing its history similar to the Heritage Map. The purpose for these upgrades is to enable visitors to walk the trail without the map.
Medan Kidd Upgrade
The MBI food stalls located at Medan Kidd will be upgraded. Currently the stalls offer only food. The plan after the upgrade is to introduce a touristy environment with souvenir shops as well as food.
Relaxing Rules for Budget Hotels
Roshidi stated that City Council is considering relaxing the rules for budget hotels in Old Town specifically for the number of car parks required per budget hotel. Old Town is within walking distance of Ipoh Central Bus Station and the Railway Station. His rationale is based on visitors arriving by train and bus who don’t drive and therefore will not require a car park.
Roshidi also stated that an investor was committed to converting the 3 storey SPH De Silva Heritage Building, located in the centre of the Heritage Trail, into a budget cum boutique hotel.
Upgrading Water Fountains
Ipoh City Council will be upgrading three water fountains. One will be a musical fountain while two more will be upgraded with coloured lights. The fountains identified are at the Railway Station garden, Dataran MBI and Jalan Sultan Yussuf circus beside the Menteri Besar’s residence.
Hotels and Accommodation
Currently there are six 3- and 4-star hotels in Ipoh while there are 71 under 3-star hotels with a total room capacity of 2,591 rooms. Before the end of this year three more 3- and 4-star hotels will begin operations. These include MH Hotel along Tasek Road and Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites among the three.
Upgrades for Roundabouts
The roundabouts at Anderson Road, Silibin, Kampar Road (next to MGS School) and at Jalan Raja DiHilir have been identified for upgrading.
Entry Point Upgrades
The entry points into Ipoh at Simpang Pulai, Kuala Kangsar Road (next to Wing Onn Garden) and at Lahat-Lumut Highway have been identified for upgrading with a suggestion from the Menteri Besar that the first visual be a pleasant one.
Tourism also involves a clean and healthy environment. City Hall has identified 1,500 eateries in Ipoh. Clean eateries that meet MBI’s cleanliness standards are issued a Grade A certificate. Since the start of the grading exercise over a year ago, close to 10% of eateries have obtained the A certification. City Hall does not issue Grade B and C certificates.
City Hall is currently planning to outsource its drain cleaning services.
If all the above initiatives are taken by City Council and conscientiously carried out, hopefully the rest of the stake holders and industry players will join in and are gearing up for VPY 2012. And may Perak achieve the ambitious target for three million tourist arrivals under its Visit Perak Year 2012. That should bring in much appreciated revenue to the State.