Chinese tourists have become the major source of tourist arrivals worldwide and the most welcome group for the consumer market. Perak must bank on this to lure the biggest spenders to the state.
The tourism market is an enormous one. According to statistics, there were 1.138 billion international tourists around the world in 2014, generating more than US$1.4 trillion in business opportunities, representing almost 9% of the global GDP or 30% of global service industry output. The job nature of one in every 11 people in this world is either directly or indirectly linked to the tourism industry, one that governments around the world are working hard to snatch.
Following the opening up of direct flight routes between Ipoh and China, along with the promotion effort of the state’s many tourist attractions in recent years, it is foreseeable that China will eventually become the biggest source of tourist arrivals to Perak.
China is the third largest source of foreign tourists to the country after Singapore and Indonesia. A total of 1.558 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in 2013, a whopping 24.6% rise over the previous year.
Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohammed Radzi, the Perak State Executive Councilor for Tourism, Arts and Culture says the enormous Chinese market is what the state is looking seriously to exploit.
There are many similarities between the culture of Ipoh and the traditional Chinese culture in southern China. Meanwhile, Ipoh is known as a glutton’s paradise with its numerous food offerings, including Hong Kong dim sum which is popular among the Chinese tourists.
Nolee says, following the increased flight frequency between Ipoh and China, the state of Perak is poised to become choice destination for Chinese tourists. For example, with the opening up of direct flights between Ipoh and Medan, we have seen an influx of tourists from Indonesia.
The Indonesians normally would go for family tour packages, and they make up a sizeable market for the state’s medical tourism. There are currently three international class medical centers in the city of Ipoh, and these are all members of well-established healthcare service groups in the country, offering a wide array of professional medical services.
Focus on cultural heritage
Additionally, many Chinese tourists come to Perak via Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and Ipoh is an important transit point for them to travel to the central, southern or northern parts of the country. Tourists would normally stop in Perak for a day or two, visiting several major attractions such as the Water Park, Taiping Zoo, local culinary delights and perhaps a night’s stay in the city.
“In Ipoh and the surrounding areas alone, we have seen the emergence of 13 medium and large scale hotels within the past two years, detesting to the fact that Perak has been an attractive destination for tourists, not to mention the relatively lower cost of living when compared to Kuala Lumpur and Penang.”
Nolee believes Perak will appeal to younger tourists and family groups following the completion of Asia’s biggest animation theme park in 2016.
Given the large expanse of land in Perak and the availability of numerous tourist attractions in the state, the state tourism board will step up promotional effort to market these destinations based on their respective promotional strategies. For example, Ipoh will be promoted as a cultural and artistic destination, Royal Belum State Park as an eco-tourism hub, Pangkor for its idyllic beaches, Taiping for its scenic lake, Kampung Dew firefly sanctuary, and Kuala Sepetang fishing village, and Lembah Lenggong for its prehistoric archeological finds.
Other than Chinese tourists, Perak is also setting its sights on expanding the European tourist market. Nolee says Perak has a number of attractions that appeal strongly to European tourists, including Royal Belum state park, Gua Tempurong, Pulau Pangkor and world heritage sites.
“Where this is concerned, the state government has visited Berlin to promote the travelpackages of Perak, covering several of the state’s major attractions in about one week. These longer vacation packages will allow the tourists to better understand the state’s culture and customs while thoroughly enjoying the many attractions the state has to offer.”
Targeting 5.5 million tourist arrivals
Other than foreign tourists, the state of Perak actually welcomes more domestic tourists. Statistics of the state tourism board show that 6.02 million domestic tourists visited the state in 2013. Despite the air disasters and enormous floods in 2014, there were still 5.76 domestic visitors to the state in 2014.
“During weekends, people will be able to feel that everywhere is packed with visitors and the streets are particularly congested while businessmen are doing brisk businesses.”
Due to the positive outlook, the state government has set the target of attracting at least 5.5 million domestic tourists to Perak this year.
Nolee is confident that the tourism industry will contribute more significantly to the state’s economy in the future, and the state government will continue to develop various tourism-related commercial potentials in collaboration with the private sector.
To further promote the tourist attractions in the state, the Perak branch of Tourism Malaysia has launched a brand new website Perak travelin360.com to highlight the various destinations in the state through 360 degrees visual maps. The website will also feature various delicacies in the state as well as famous street food and important info on accommodation choices.
10 recommended travel destinations by Perak Tourism:
1. Kellie’s Castle
Kellie’s Castle is an abandoned incomplete castle which was built by William Kellie Smith for his beloved wife, Agnes.
2. Pangkor Island
Pangkor Island is one of the most enchanting holiday destination islands in the country for its beautiful beaches and its crystal clear water.
3. Pasir Salak Historical Complex
Among the attractions of the complex are the burial site of Sipuntum, Maharajalela’s fortress and the traditional Perak Malay wooden house called Rumah Kudai.
4. The Royal Belum State Park
The rainforest is estimated to be over 130 million years old and is the oldest in the world.
5. Zoo Taiping & Night Safari
Zoo Taiping is the first in Malaysia that introduces Night Safari.
6. Orang Utan Island
Orang Utan Island is located at Bukit Merah and is one of the best Orang Utan rehabilitation and conservation centres in the world.
7. Tempurung Cave
Tempurung Cave is the largest limestone cave in Peninsular Malaysia and is estimated to be 400 million years old.
8. The Heritage Trail of Ipoh
The trail will take you to several notable historical landmarks around the city, Court House, Royal Ipoh Club, Railway Station and the Birch Memorial Clock Tower.
9. Lenggong Valley the World Heritage site
Lenggong Valley is the site of the oldest known place of human activity in Peninsular Malaysia. 2012 June 30th, Lenggong Valley was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. The Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar
Iskandariah Palace, The Royal Museum, Ubudiah Mosque and Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery are the places you must see in The Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar.