Twinning Efforts by Macau and the Perak State Government
Lately, Macau Media Group, a Macau Firm paid a visit to Ipoh during Chinese New Year to seek out co-operation deals for various purposes. It was reported that the director of Macau Media Group, Ke Jiangang, together with the Malaysian state Tourism, Arts and Culture committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi discussed the tourism promotion of both cities.
They even discussed to establish direct flights between both cities. The Ipoh Airport may have flights to Macau in the future. Nolee Ashilin commented that the establishment of direct flights between the two cities would be dependent upon the decision made by the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia, claiming that the international airport of Ipoh is able to provide facilities for flight operations. She added that the possible establishment of twinning the city of Macau but indicated that the final decision could only be made by the Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr. Zambry bin Abdul Kadir.
In the same visit, Macau Group Media plans to introduce foreign investment in Perak, to launch, for instance, a 5-star hotel. Such decision in the state of Perak would eventually provide many competitions for local hoteliers and this is very different as compared to other nations like Thailand.
Opportunity or Competition?
Thailand, unlike Malaysia imposed many protectionist policies including listing the hoteling industry as a protected and regulated industry where it is difficult for foreigners to enter into the market unless obtaining an approval from the Board of Investment of Thailand. Although the plans for the 5 Star Hotel may prove to be in a different playing field altogether as compared to the budget and 3 star hotels that locals are operating, the investment by Macau entities would further boost Ipoh as a tourist hotspot, increase job opportunities and attract many foreign direct investments.
Nonetheless, it is also crucial for the State Government to look into the operations of foreign businesses such as cafes and purchase of properties in the state that would make it difficult for locals. It had been an incident in many countries such as Australia where Chinese based investors flooded the local market and bought up properties, leading to the eventual increase of property prices. Previously, the Foreign Investment Committee Guidelines in Malaysia allows foreigners to purchase properties beyond a minimum amount serves as a protectionist policy for local home purchasers but such policies no longer exists in Malaysia. However, the state government can implement such policies as land and property is a state matter. This had been implemented in the state of Selangor. Should there be more investors and tourists pour into the State of Perak and Ipoh City alike, it would boost the local economy tremendously, especially if appropriate policies are taken into account.
More Influx of Tourists into Perak
Perak State seeks to attract 8 million tourists this year. If Macau Media Group can assist in attracting two million tourists, Perak State would hence have opportunities to co-operate with other Chinese cities. Coined as the Land of Grace, Perak Darul Ridzuan, the second largest state in Peninsular Malaysia, is a true gem. The rustic charm of old colonial buildings which are now preserved and repurposed to fit modern lifestyle, outstanding museums and historical sites tracking back to the years during the British colonial period are only one side of the coin. This makes it easy for the State to promote the tourism industry in Perak which had been growing steeply in recent years.
Tourism industry in Ipoh had gauged the development of many new properties, cafes, tourists’ spots and revival of many antique shops throughout the city. Boutique Cafes and Hotels are growing like mushrooms all over the city. Lonely Planet, the largest travelling publisher in the world even listed Ipoh as one of the top 10 must visit destinations in 2017. The food and drinks of the classical city of Malaysia had even been nicknamed as the “Hipster Capital of Malaysia”. The income generated by the tourism industry in Perak was estimated to be over RM2 Billion annually. Perak recorded the highest number of domestic tourist arrivals, from 5.67 million people in 2012 to 7.96 million last year. Various programs and initiatives were carried out to further boost tourism activities in the state including a proposal to have chartered flights to Ipoh from Indonesia and China.
In conclusion, the number of tourists to Perak will be likely increase in the future. Ipoh is on a good tract towards being an ideal tourist destination not just locally, but internationally alike.
This article is contributed by Mr Tham Kuen Wei, the editor in Chief of Perak Property Times.