Ipoh’s listing on Lonely Planet as one of ten top places to visit in Asia for 2016 will be capitalized upon by state tourism bodies.
This was confirmed by State Chairman for Tourism Datuk Nolee Ashilin and state Tourism Malaysia director Ibrahim Seddiqi.
Lonely Planet the global tourist guide publication with the largest readership had rated Ipoh at no 6 of top 10 destinations in Asia to visit for 2016.
It was the only Malaysian city on the list after Hokkaido, Shanghai, Jeonju South Korea, Con Dao Islands Vietnam and Hong Kong,
The write up gave a tantalizing account of what the ‘timeworn neighborhoods of Ipoh’ had to offer.
These included ‘art cafes in period houses and century old buildings’ to ‘traditional coffee shops and colonial extravagance masterpieces’ such as the ‘Taj Mahal’ railway station’, signature foods of ‘chicken and bean sprout and Ipoh white coffee’ and countryside attractions of ‘spiritual cave temples’.
“We will definitely exploit the status given by Lonely Planet to promote Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2017” said state tourism director Datuk Nolee Ashilin when contacted about the listing.
“We have been working very hard to get this far and the state government is very pleased that Ipoh has been given the recognition.
Nolee acknowledged that the recognition would not have been achieved without the cooperation and support from the industry players who believe in the potential of the tourism industry here in Ipoh and Perak as a whole
“However there was still much to be done and a lot more room for growth.
“For the remaining six months we will be promoting the state heavily through business matchings and Perak travel fairs.
While the state was the top draw for domestic visitors Nolee said the promotions would also target the foreign markets.
“It is natural we target the foreign visitors as they have better spending power.
“Lonely Planet which is used worldwide as a guide will raise the awareness and interest of foreign tourists to Ipoh and the state and which hopefully will pull in more investors to provide economic opportunities”.
Tourism Malaysia state Director Ibrahim Seddiqi similarly agreed the listing would give recognition to Ipoh and Perak in general.
“With VPY2017 just over the horizon it would place Ipoh and Perak on the tourism map for both the domestic and international visitor.
“The state achieved 8 million domestic visitors for 2015, the highest amongst the fourteen states in the country for 4 consecutive years since 2012.
Ibrahim said the department was also targeting to increase the number of foreign visitors.
“The number achieved last year was 266,000 compared to 253,000 in 2014.
“For the 2016/17 period we are targeting a conservative 10% increase in foreign tourist arrivals”.
He confirmed that Perak is currently focusing on ASEAN the biggest and most lucrative market with its 500 million population.
“The other areas is the medium haul markets of Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan with the Middle East being a bonus”
Ibrahim added that coverage by local n international media was very important to alert tourists about Perak.
“This year alone Tourism Malaysia Perak had initiated many familiarization visits for media from Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and Vietnam to visit.
“Their visits covered products like food trails, team building, agro tourism, cycling, eco tourism, mosque trails and theme parks as well as angling.
“For theme parks we believe that Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) schedule to open in the fourth quarter of this year has the potential to attract family tourists from Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.