A group consisting of 74 students, lecturers and hospitality professionals from the Lucerne School of Tourism of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland was in Ipoh recently as part of a 9-day visit to Malaysia.

The students are pursuing a part-time postgraduate degree in Tourism Management and part of their curriculum is to travel abroad and learn about the tourism industry of a particular country.

They were greeted at a welcoming ceremony graced by Dato’ Nolee Ashilin bt Mohamed Radzi, the Executive Councilor for Health, Tourism and Heritage, at Impiana Hotel, Ipoh where they were staying. Nolee expressed her happiness that efforts by the state tourism agency during the ITB-Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) tourism fair last year had paid dividends with the visit of these Swiss students to Ipoh.

“The follow-up on our promotion at the Berlin tourism fair is a starting point to attract more visitors to the state. We have had many European tourists to Perak but very few from Switzerland. Hopefully, this will help create awareness of Perak as a tourist destination in Switzerland,” she added.

The principal of the School of Tourism, Manfred Ritschard, was appreciative of the hospitality shown during their visit to Ipoh. He felt that Ipoh had plenty of potential for development in tourism. Focus, he said, must be given to ecotourism and measures taken to ensure sustainability of such touristic spots.

When asked for her impression of Ipoh, Lara Sterchi, a final year student, said that it was easy to assimilate with the locals because they speak good English. What was most impressive, however, was the fact that Malaysians were very friendly and helpful.

“We had trouble getting back to the hotel, as it was late and there were no busses. We sought the help of an Indian gentleman and his wife. The couple was kind enough to guide us to a taxi stand but when we got there, there were no taxis. The man asked around and soon managed to get us a taxi. It was very kind of him and he didn’t ask for anything in return”, she said, recounting an incident that happened when visiting Little India with a fellow student.

Copies of the Foodie’s Guide to the Best Eats in Ipoh, an Ipoh Echo publication written by the Echo’s food columnist SeeFoon Chan-Koppen was given to Manfred at the event.

The group headed for the Royal Belum State Park before ending their visit in Kuala Lumpur.

Angain