Tourism industry flying high
THE state’s tourism industry continues to chart a steady growth with almost 6.42 million visitors last year compared with 3.7 million four years ago.
The present weakened currency is bringing about more opportunities for tourism industry players from Malaysia and Singapore to work together.
Johor Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumerism committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said that one night’s stay in Singapore was actually equivalent to three- days stay in Johor for the same level of service. “There is huge potential. It has been increasing for the past few years.
“We also would like to thank the Federal government for allowing China tourists visa exemption as this will draw more visitors, especially Chinese tourists, visiting Singapore.
“Recently, we had dozens of tourist buses in the Second Link daily,” he said, adding that this allowed Chinese businessmen who visit Singapore to hop over to Johor. He expressed hope that the Federal government would review the policies from time to time to help boost tourism.
Tee explained that local players could work with their Singapore tourism players to come up with attractive tour packages such as a 6D/ 5N package to visit Singapore and Johor.
“People can also use our train services, which saves time especially with the increase to 22 trips daily between Johor and Singapore,” he said, adding that the Tebrau Shuttle was popular not just among locals, but also Singaporeans.
He added that local tour companies should come up with packages where tourists from Singapore could enter Johor Baru via the train service and have tour buses pick them up at JB Sentral, located in the heart of the city.
“This can save time and cost as tourists will not have to waste time being stuck in traffic on the Causeway,” he said, adding that the recent International Kite Festival in Pasir Gudang, JB Arts Festival and the annual Chingay procession, were great attractions both for the locals and visitors from abroad.
“Even the Johor Ruler was impressed with the high turnout and the warm reception that he received from the rakyat,” he added.
Tee said that the industry players really needed to transform as they cannot be passive.
“We have a lot of good products. We also have an opportunity to work with Singapore. They should capitalise on it,” he said.
Tee added that they should promote attractions that Singapore did not have such as beautiful islands off the coast of Johor, wetlands, which are the second largest in the world, and national parks, which were hundreds of years old.
“It is a good time for players from both countries to team up as Singapore is supportive of this collaboration,” he added.
Tee added that industry players should also take advantage of the weak currency, including coming up with innovative ideas.
He added that the state government was serious about developing tourism in Johor and that was the main reason for them to have a 10- year comprehensive tourism development plan.
He added that this industry had a lot of spin- offs, including opportunities for a lot of people such as tour guides, taxi drivers, plus operators of shops, restau- rants and shopping complexes.
Asked on the impact of the MH370 and MH17 plane crashes, Tee acknowledged that these two incidents have caused some tourist arrival numbers from China to dip.
However, they have taken initiatives to organise trips to China to woo not just their investors but also tourists.
“I have been organising many trips to China with government officers, politicians and industry players to engage and have business matching with the people there.
“I have an advantage when in China as they were surprised when they heard me conversing in Mandarin, as they thought Malaysians only speak Malay,” he added.
He said that they also managed to get a popular China- based reality show to conduct their video shooting at eight popular locations in Johor, namely Pulau Sibu, Desaru, Legoland, Air Masin Kukup and also in Kluang.
“All this has helped people to know more about Johor.”
One of the participants, Bernhard Dingwerth, from Germany flying his kite at the 21st World Kite Festival at Bukit Layang- Layang in Pasir Gudang on Feb 28, 2016. — Abdul rahman Embong / The star
Groups of tourists outside the main entrance at Legoland Malaysia in Johor.
Largest mangrove around the wetlands identified in Pulau Kukup Johor national Park in Pontian.
Johor ruler sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum sultan Iskandar hitting a Chinese drum to launch the Chingay celebration in Johor Baru this year.