MIRI: Ministry of Tourism Malaysia will come up with a brochure, themed ‘Parks and Gardens Trail in Miri’, to promote the unique and beautiful landscape and nature here to be included in its Parks and Gardens of Malaysia programme.
Its minister Dr Ng Yen Yen was attracted by Miri city’s parks and gardens during a recent visit to Miri and believes they have potentials to attract tourists, particularly pensioners and flowers lovers.
During a dialogue with industry players including hoteliers, she was stunned to find out that none of the tour agents here took the initiative to package them into tourism products.
Citing that New Zealanders would go to China for ten days just to appreciate the gardens and parks, she urged industry players here to be creative and innovative in creating tourism packages and products.
“Sarawak and Malaysia have a lot of unique and special plants and flowers such as ‘touch me not’ which is not found in some countries,” she said after visiting Miri City Fan.
Describing Miri as an uncut diamond yet to be refined, she said industry players should observe what is lacking or marketable and take the opportunity to create local tourism products, instead of depending on Tourism Malaysia to create them.
“You cannot depend on government to create (tourism) products. Everyone thinks that Tourism Malaysia will come up with the products. We will help to promote the events or packages that highlight the culture and heritage of Malaysia, for example through culinary, arts or festivals. We are promoting Malaysia as a Truly Asia destination,” she emphasised.
Dr Ng also related her experience of having dim sum in one of the hotel here during her visit, praising its cheap price and huge portion but was rather disappointed that the gastronomy aspects of food preparation was not observed.
“It is important for them to know and to study all aspects of their products,” she said.
She added: “We are selling experience. They will return again and again if they have a good experience. The government has recognised tourism as a major economy of the country. In the past it was viewed as a sideline industry.”
On the achievement of the industry, Dr Ng said the number of tourists visited the country last year was 24.65 million from 10.9 million in year 2000.
“In 2009, tourism brought to Malaysia RM66.04 billion, the second largest foreign earner in the country. It is a growing industry. By 2020, we are targeting around 36 million tourists with an income of RM168 billion,” she added.
To achieve this, the ministry has come up with various programmes such as ‘Quality Service Quality Control’, where tour operators are required to undertake a half-day to one-day training when they renew their license every year.
For new application, they must take one day to two days training course.
There are around 4,000 tour companies in Malaysia but half of them are either not active or selling their license. The ministry is going to weed them out and keep the best.
Malaysia is now competing with new emerging destinations such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines.