Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Perak branch chairman: Strong demand for hotel rooms

President of MAH, Perak Branch
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The completion of more international-class convention centers has boosted incentive travels, seminars and trade fair activities in the state, stimulating the growth of the local hospitality industry and other supporting services to elevate the income levels of Perakians.

Perak MAH chairman Maggie Ong.
Perak MAH chairman Maggie Ong.

Perak’s tourism industry has taken off in a big way in recent years with constantly rising numbers of visitors, in particular domestic visitors. This has helped boost the state’s hospitality industry.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Perak branch chairman Maggie Ong points out that the state only had a handful of hotels prior to 2009. However the 2013 statistics show that there were a total of 253 hotels providing 11,293 guest rooms in the state which increased by 35 hotels or  27% to 288 establishments and 14,333 rooms in the following year. This shows that the hospitality industry in Perak has indeed moved into a stage of rapid growth.

Meanwhile, occupancy rate stood at an average of 50% in 2014, up 0.2% compared to a year earlier.

“Although the growth rate looks unappealing, overall room demand has increased by 27%. Other than occupancy rates, we should also look at the average room prices. A standard guest room in an Ipoh hotel is between RM130 to RM170 a night.”

The rising number of tourists to Ipoh has stimulated the growth of the local hotel industry.
The rising number of tourists to Ipoh has stimulated the growth of the local hotel industry.

The toursim industry has always acted as a strong pillar of support for the local hospitality industry. Although hotel stays by foreign visitors fell 16% in 2014, this was offset by the increasing number of domestic visitors on self-drive weekend tours, thanks to the large number of tourist attractions in the state. Ipoh is itself famous for its Hong Kong-style dim sum and local delicacies and has become a favorite destination among Malaysians.

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Perak hotel stays for 2013 and 2014
2013 2014 Change (%)
Domestic 2,081,122 2,274,077 9.27%
International 302,059 252,693 -16.34%
Total 2,383.180 2,526,770 6.03%

(Source: Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia)

On the ways to lure more foreign tourists, Maggie Ong, who is also the managing director of 22-year-old Syeun Hotel in Ipoh, points out that foreign tourists are generally more interested in nature attractions such as Gua Tempurung, Taiping and Pulau Pangkor. If the transportation from downtown to these attractions can be further improved, and accompanied with narration, then not only tourists can know more about local culture, they will stay longer as well.

 

RM8.5 million to boost tourism industry

The Perak state government has set aside RM8.5 million to develop the state’s tourism industry in its 2015 budget. Ong believes that the A&P initiatives should at least push the state’s hotel occupancy rate by 15-20%.

She has made the following proposals for the state’s tourism industry:

  • Cultural and heritage tourism: The state should host cultural and heritage exhibitions and shows to lure tourists.
  • Medical tourism: Large medical centers in Perak have the capacity to provide excellent healthcare services at competitive prices, and as such should target the MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) or senior citizen markets, with emphasis on Medan and Singapore which have direct international air links with Ipoh.
  • Business tourism: The government must step up its effort to promote the various tax incentives and advantages of investing in Perak. The role of Perak Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in attracting more multinationals to set up operations in Perak will help strengthen the development of the state’s business tourism sector.
  • Sport tourism: Perak is the host of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup international hockey tournament which has become a major annual sporting event in the state. This tourism sector will get a significant boost if more sporting events are hosted here.
  • Festive tourism: The Year of Festivals 2015 launched by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has seen a string of exciting cultural events being staged in Perak, and this is poised to attract tourists keen to explore the state’s many cultural legacies.
  • Eco-tourism: The lush equatorial rainforests in Royal Belum State Park and other eco-tourism sites in the state are particularly appealing to foreign tourists. Moreover, proper preservation of these sites will ensure sustainable development of the state’s tourism industry.
  • Halal tourism: To attract Muslim tourists, especially those from Middle East, more halal product trade fairs should be organized in the state.

Ong believes that the completion of more international-class convention centers will boost incentive travels, seminars and trade fair activities in the state, hence stimulating the growth of the local hospitality industry and other supporting services such as F&B, transport services, retail industry, etc., while elevating the income levels of local residents.

The tourism industry has always acted as a strong pillar of the local hospitality industry.
The tourism industry has always acted as a strong pillar of the local hospitality industry.

The Perak branch of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) was established in 2001. There are currently 54 hotel members providing a total of more than 6,300 rooms.