By James Gough
Perak is to embark on an aggressive programme to promote tourism in the state. It has set a target for three million tourist arrivals under its Visit Perak Year 2012. The promotion, which lifted off this month, has a two-prong approach. One is to spruce up the various tourist attractions available in the state and the other is to draw up attractive tour packages to lure tourists to stay overnight.
Publicity Campaign to Put Perak on Tourism Map
State tourism chairman, Dato’ Hamidah Othman, hopes to put the state on the tourism map through an intensive publicity campaign in the country and as well as abroad.
She said it was important that they start preparing now for the Visit Perak Year 2012. She is seeking a RM10 million budget for promotions from the state with a ringgit-to-ringgit match from the federal government.
Although Perak has many tourist attractions, it has not felt the full impact of the country’s successful tourism industry each year. Though tourism is the second largest revenue earner in the country earning RM56.5 billion from the arrival of 24.6 million visitors last year, Perak recorded just 2.2 million tourist arrivals during the same period.
This is being attributed to tour agents from Penang and Kuala Lumpur for organising only day trips to the various tourist attractions in the state, while local tour agents appear to be just interested in outbound tours.
As a result, the number of visitors to Perak has been experiencing a declining trend in the last three years. Perak therefore needs to offer attractive tour packages to lure tourists to stay longer.
Lure Tourists To Stay Longer
“Our goal for Visit Perak Year 2012 is to create 3 days-2 nights (3D2N) packages to allow visitors to the state to stay overnight,” said Hamidah. According to her, getting visitors to stay overnight would have a spill-over effect for the industry players.
Generally, a visitor to Ipoh who is staying for a 2D1N package spends an average RM300 which covers accommodation, transport, food and shopping. Based on this simple formula and at 3 million visitors the spill over effect to the industry would be RM900 million.
However, Hamidah is planning to come out with 3D2N package stays. She has identified four packages to be worked on. They are Belum and Lenggong, Kuala Kangsar and Taiping, Pangkor and Manjung and Ipoh.
With just over five months to go, preparations for the Visit Perak Year will start with a seminar to be attended by the stake holders and hoteliers.
Similarly, Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abdul Kadir will also be holding briefings with representatives from all district councils and local authorities to prepare for events on district, federal and international levels.
Locals To 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 to have a Fiesta. We have to tickle the locals to think tourism and do tourism”.
The theme for Visit Perak Year 2012 is “Green Tourism. Yours to Discover. Nature and Heritage” which is aligned to Tourism Malaysia’s tagline “Go Green, Go Clean”.
Hamidah has budgeted RM7.5 million for promotions. Besides new brochures, it will include 14 billboards throughout the North-South Highway from Johor to Perlis with additional billboards at KLIA, LCCT and KL Sentral. Two LRT coaches will feature Visit Perak Year’s wraparounds while aggressive promotions via the main-stream media will commence this month. Apart from these, road shows are also to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore, Medan and Jakarta.
Hamidah also announced that the state was working with an outside agent to develop the inbound tourism market saying that the local agents were more interested in promoting outbound tourism.
Meanwhile, the state is preparing some new tourist attractions; among them an allocation of RM200,000 for the Kinta Nature Park in Batu Gajah and a RM300,000 allocation for upgrading Lorong Panglima (Concubine Lane) in Ipoh.
Others include steps taken to float the last tin dredge at Tanjung Tualang, converting a decommissioned Royal Malaysian Navy warship, KD Rahmat, at Lumut into a living museum with a hotel and floating restaurant, promoting the firefly colony at Kampong Dew near Taiping, more Heritage Trail Maps for Old Town Ipoh, and plans for Batu Gajah and Gopeng.
Lenggong Valley archaeological site, where remains and artefacts from the Palaeolithic (old Stone Age) and Neolithic (new Stone Age) were found as well as the skeleton of the 11,000 years old Perak Man will be featured strongly.
On Ipoh/Tin Heritage, Hamidah initiated a move to gazette the area from Ipoh to Batu Gajah, Kampar and Gopeng as a Tin World Heritage site. Perak Tourism is collaborating with National Heritage Department to gazette the area though she is now going for National Heritage Gazetting.
Meanwhile, the Malayan railways company (KTMB) has donated one of its three ‘domed verandas’ that protrude outward from the Ipoh Railway station to be used as a Tourist Information Counter and centre for the heritage walk where visitors would be briefed before setting out on their walk.
Ipoh Railway Station is the starting point of the Ipoh Heritage Walk every Saturday. According to Hamidah the Perak Tour Guides Association would operate the information centre when ready.
Calendar of Events
Perak Tourism too will be coming out with a Calendar of Events throughout next year with contributions from NGOs, associations and local government bodies. The calendar will be finalised by September and the printed copy out by October.
Other activities proposed by Hamidah include participation by commercial retailers to promote local products such as white coffee and even shoes, and promoting cycling to get around heritage trails.
On the overall preparations, Hamidah said that “generally we are ready. Our theme song and logo are ready while our promotions will start this month. Everything else should be completed by September as we plan to have a soft launch in October while the actual launch will be on January 1, 2012 after the New Year countdown.”