Come 2020, Perak is expected to receive even more visitors with the few soon-to-be completed mega projects in the pipeline.

Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said that among them are Ipoh’s new airport and a shopping mall with 146 shopping outlets.

"If the projects materialise, they’ll be a vital benchmark in boosting the tourism industry, as one of the major contributors to the state economic growth.

"Besides organising international-level events, we’ll increase promotion in Japan, South Korea, China and the Middle East.

"We’ll also focus on community-based tourism activities such as the food and crafts sectors. Facilities such as public transport and public toilets will also be upgraded," he said during the Perak Tourism Awards 2017 at Kinta Riverfront Hotel on Tuesday, October 31.

The event, the fourth thus far, was organised by the state government and Perak Tourism Association every two years. A total of 32 award categories were contested as a form of appreciation to the state tourism industry players.

Dato’ Nolee Ashilin Mohammed Radzi, Executive Councillor for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Multimedia and Communications said the state government would act to enhance Ipoh city’s branding as places of interest were getting more popular with tourists.

"Two different approaches will be adopted. One, to continue with the Visit Perak Year campaign in coming years by highlighting touristic spots such as the Ipoh Heritage Trail, People’s Park, Dato’ Sagor Square, Kinta Riverside, Taman DR, Gunung Lang, Gerbang Malam and Pasar Karat.

“Two, scenes of arts and culture, hipster cafes, colonial architecture and sports will be incorporated for impact.

"The state, along with the private sector and NGOs, will be involved in the branding effort to promote Ipoh, not only as the equivalent of Kuala Lumpur but that of Bangkok, Hong Kong and New York," she added.

The eventful evening was graced by popular local artist, Dayang Nur Faizah. Among the award winners was Ipoh Echo’s stringer, Emily Lowe. She was the judge’s pick in the blogger category.

Rosli Mansor