BAU: The Jong Regatta (junk regatta) is expected to be repackaged as Jong Festival beginning next year as the event undergoes a re-branding exercise to attract more major participants and domestic tourists alike.
Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk James Dawos Mamit yesterday highlighted the need for local organisers to be more creative in introducing programmes surrounding the regatta to break out from its conventional activities and events.
The Mambong MP suggested that the date of the event be shifted to incorporate the school holidays so that it could attract more domestic tourists. He suggested June as an ideal date considering the two weeks school break coupled with the starting of the summer holidays in European countries and the Middle East.
“Don’t always think conventionally, be more creative. The organisers must come up with new strategies to attract more participants and visitors. Conventional ways don’t work anymore especially when it comes to attracting domestic tourists.
“The Jong Regatta is an iconic event. There is no such event elsewhere in country. Therefore, it is very important for organisers to pick a date most convenient for the visitors from the country and foreign tourists,” said Dawos when officiating at the 2012 Jong Regatta held at Tasik Biru here.
Among those present were state Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, Kuching Resident Abdul Rahman Sebli Senusi and Bau district officer Simon Japut.
Highlighting the importance of attracting domestic tourists, Dawos revealed that statistic of Malaysians who visited all the tourism spots throughout the country last year had reached a staggering 150 million. He said that on average, one person had visited any part of the country at least seven times last year.
He also mentioned that spending by domestic tourists nationwide for last year had reached a whopping RM43.2 billion. As for foreign tourists, the total spending of the foreign tourists was estimated at RM58.3 billion. Emphasising the need to attract domestic tourists, he said that such tourist entry into the state had declined from 22 per cent in 2010 to 18 per cent last year.
Dawos highlighted that the state has better advantage in attracting foreign tourists when compared to the peninsula and Sabah due to the freedom given to foreigners in their conduct when visiting here. The people were deemed more open-minded and accepting to the western culture.
“We are not bothered by the dressing of foreigners; there are also no restrictions on their food and drink intake. They have the freedom to drink openly at the shops and stalls be it in the city or rural areas.
“The state has big advantages to attract global tourists due to its culture, bio-tourism, food and cheaper branded goods due to the abolishment of the imported tax since January last year. More than 300 imported branded goods are at least 20 per cent cheaper now when compared to other countries in Asia,” continued Dawos.
Touching on the junk model for the races, he suggested for the introduction of a special powered-junk event where the junk could be fitted with batteries to make the race more interesting in the future.
The Jong Regatta this year attracted its highest record of participants of more than 400 entries. This also included six women teams.