Saturday, August 04, 2007

Need to Overhaul Penang's Tourism Industry

PENANG’S tourism industry needs a major overhaul to strike a balance between the island and Seberang Prai.

Association of Tourism Attractions (ATAP) Penang chairman Eddy Low said Seberang Prai could ideally be developed as an important domestic tourist attraction.

“Except for the Penang Bird Park and a few homestay programmes, Seberang Prai does not have any other tourism products of international standard.

“So, we have to make use of the existing recreational parks and delectable hawker food to draw the local crowd,” he said yesterday.

On Wednesday, several state assemblymen in Seberang Prai expressed disappointment that few tourists visited the mainland despite this year being Visit Malaysia 2007.

They cited lack of tourism promotions in Seberang Prai for the poor response.

Low said the tourism industry in Seberang Prai was not as big as that on the island as it lacked investment confidence from the private sector.

“The state government should address this problem by adding value to the existing tourism products in Seberang Prai.

“For example, non-pollutant water sports activities should be offered at the Mengkuang Dam.

“Tourists in the Mengkuang Titi homestay programme too should be given a hands-on experience to learn and participate in the local cultural and economic activities there,” he said.

Low said Penang needed to shift towards experiential tourism, where tourists could experience taking part in its cultural activities.

“Tourism now is no longer the supply of product, package or service, but the supply of experience,” he said.

Low said there was a need to train taxi drivers and others in the tourism industry to be knowledgeable about Penang’s rich heritage so that they could provide accurate information to tourists.

Bukit Mertajam Umno division chief Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir said the lack of tourism promotions in Seberang Prai did not augur well for local businessmen.

“How are Seberang Prai residents going to benefit pwhen there are hardly any efforts to attract tourists to the mainland?

“Seberang Prai is still part of Penang. There are many historical sites, eco-parks and agro-based activities that can be promoted to tourists,” he said.

Source : STAR
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