Don’t build more, fix problems first, Penang tourism master planners told

Significantly less than a thirty day period to go just before WiT Indie kicks off in Penang on March thirteen, and fireworks have exploded above the new Penang Tourism Learn System that was introduced a 7 days ago, with criticisms ranging from it not meeting the demands of industry and travellers to “building far more when we should really be fixing problems”.

Subsequent the presentation by YZD Arranging and Seek the advice of chief specialist Prof Badaruddin Mohamed, Ooi Geok Ling, co-founder of WiT Indie, was quoted in the regional media as indicating, “You discuss about revitalising alternate tourism and but I see micro projects of constructing this or that structure when there is no proof that constructing far more factors will deliver in far more tourists.”

Khoo Kongsi, a substantial Chinese clanhouse, is a person of Penang’s major historic points of interest.

According to the report, “the new
master prepare calls for 104 initiatives, including physical projects and
programmes. The proposals consist of establishing area for a Penang tourist evening
market place offering regional goods, a wellness and aesthetics resort enclave, a
topic park, a Penang Grand Bazaar, an Aqua Zoo, a 6-star spa, a Penang arts
and culture enclave, a Penang Legend Sporting activities and Enjoyment City, a Tanjung
Undertaking Arts and Cultural Extravaganza and numerous far more. The proposed projects
are scattered all above the condition, ranging from Balik Pulau to George City on
the island and from Butterworth to Batu Kawan on the mainland”.

The master prepare arrives at a time when Penang’s tourism industry is struggling with challenges, even without using the current Covid-19 virus disaster into consideration. Looking at Penang Global Airport figures, involving 2007 and 2019, the highest selection of international arrivals was 717,714 in 2014 that dipped to 553,a hundred in 2017. Last year’s tally of 669,679 as a result is just creeping again to the 2015 amount of 681,126.

As with all secondary locations, Penang’s global tourism destiny relies on air backlinks. The fall in international arrivals is bring about for problem as the island seeks to determine and differentiate itself, twelve yrs following it got its UNESCO Globe Heritage listing. With that halo waning, its road food items culture getting to be far more commonplace and its beach locations getting rid of appeal, obviously the new master prepare was an try to revitalise the industry.

But industry practitioners say that doesn’t necessarily mean constructing far more when there had been myriad problems to be fixed on the floor. For example, the lack of suitable details to far better recognize who had been the travellers checking out Penang was cited as a fundamental trouble to be fixed. Plus, there are a lot of physical and natural property by now there, that could be cleaned up, conserved and secured for a far more sustainable potential in which the essential phrase has develop into “repurposing” not “building”.

Campbell Residence: Operator Nardya Wray believes the prepare does not optimise what Penang has to offer you. (Image credit score: Campbell Residence)

Nardya Wray, proprietor of luxury boutique lodge, Campbell Residence, explained she was dissatisfied that as a ten-calendar year-aged property since the UNESCO listing it was not even consulted in the prepare, which “is not addressing the demands of the travellers or operators or optimising what Penang has to offer”.

She added, “I do
not feel the prepare addresses a sustainable outlook for the potential, as it is
based mostly on substantial investments and far more advancement somewhat than utilising the
astounding culture and natural resources we presently have.”

She explained fundamental
demands are not getting fulfilled – these as public toilets, protected pedestrian walkways,
carparks, shuttle expert services – so why make far more? “Numbers have dropped for Batu
Ferringhi, but what has the condition finished to discover out the decline? It is obvious to
all people that lives listed here that Batu Ferringhi demands a thoroughly clean-up, the evening market place
is an eyesore, you are unable to walk on the pavement, the beach locations are soiled, the sea
is soiled, there are no initiatives to thoroughly clean up the stalls or the actions
available on the seashore. The condition preaches about getting eco-friendly but what does that
in fact necessarily mean?”

Wray who attended
the meeting explained, “What was certainly obvious from the meeting is that Penang
has a good heritage, a diverse culture and all people would like to encourage this but
in a greener and far more sustainable way. Nobody would like to see far more
unnecessary development.”

A person thrust of
the prepare was to develop Wise Travel, which Wray questioned, “We have no constant
world-wide-web support in Georgetown, how can accommodations develop Wise initiatives?”

On her component, Ooi, who used to be the CEO of Penang World wide Tourism, explained establishing good tourism did not essentially necessarily mean building a new portal or an application, just like establishing tourism doesn’t necessarily mean constructing far more constructions. “Going electronic can necessarily mean putting the time of bus arrivals on Google map, it can be as very simple as that, we do not will need yet another application due to the fact this suggests we have to market place the application,” she was quoted as indicating.

“Focus on our natural heritage of the hills, mother nature parks, mangroves, cottage industries,” Eric Chong, Penang Environmentally friendly Acres, urges

Eric Chong, proprietor of Penang Environmentally friendly
Acres, and company coach turned farmer, explained the greatest prospect was to
encourage “natural Penang as opposed to male-made Penang”.

“Focus on our natural heritage of the hills,
mother nature parks, mangroves, cottage industries,” he explained.

Penang’s strength lies in “small tourist business operators which offer you specialized niche experiences” and these operators will need help to get found by travellers online. “I would like to see a reputable website savvy person or organization choose up the prospect to vet these smaller timers and help them get acknowledged. It would also help guests to Penang glance for all the specialized niche experiences and not fall prey to fake adverts.” 

The heritage of Lone Pine Resort in Batu Ferringhi goes again to 1948. (Image credit score: Lone Pine Resort)

Francois Sigrist, basic manager of the Lone Pine Resort, explained, “Penang demands to improve its infrastructure in touristic areas these as pedestrian paths to be protected and realistic to all people. It demands to restrict and manage the growth of real estate in touristic areas like in Batu Ferringhi and issue what is definitely needed or missing to insert benefit to the area.”

He added that the
huge challenge for Penang is to have a eyesight of exactly where it would like to be ten or 30
yrs down the highway – “to do factors a lot quicker and to be innovative”.

“I always glance at
Singapore, a equivalent size island which had almost nothing and now a region on its
own, consistently reinventing itself calendar year on calendar year. Penang demands to be bold. The greatest prospect for Penang is its area, affordability,
loaded culture, variety and food items offerings. Not discounting its new authorities
which demands to verify itself.”

Extra Wray, “Most of the stakeholders and Marketplace players in fact want the similar factor, a sustainable potential and a true identity of Penang, I feel just before this prepare is implemented, real details, and real conversations with individuals working in the industry and of study course real visitor feedback should really choose area.”

While the intention to have a masterplan was substantially lauded by those people interviewed, numerous stakeholders had skipped the presentation and have asked for for the draft to be made public so that they can add their thoughts inside the supplied two-7 days period of time just before the masterplan is finalised.

• WiT Indie 2020, to be held at the Penang Institute, will provide a timely discussion board for feedback on the Learn System as perfectly as share some details assessment on direct international arrivals to Penang. Programme listed here. Indicator up listed here.