What are some of the challenges that Malaysia faces as a tourist destination?
Malaysia has many things to offer tourists but somehow the message is not getting through. While tourist numbers have increased over the years, they have not been exponential and there is still room for further growth. The challenge for the tourism industry is to promote the country as a fresh destination.
We are lagging behind our neighbours as legislature infrastructure is cumbersome, and not conducive in empowering the tourism industry to take a step forward. The tourism industry must be liberalised and licensing simplified to allow tour operators to compete on a level playing field with ride-sharing apps and hoteliers.
Another challenge is the lack of innovation among travel industry players. We must look at what our counterparts in other countries are doing so we can upgrade our product offerings and exceed theirs.
If I had my way to improve things, I would… focus a lot more on developing quality infrastructure such as connectivity and facilities to cater for business travellers, including dedicated MRT lines to Sepang International Circuit, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. Sepang International Circuit has good facilities and holds races that attract international visitors, but it is not convenient to visit using public transport.
I would bring to the government’s attention the need to focus more on developing our eco attractions and provide funding for sustainable and viable eco-projects. We have plenty of gazetted sites that are under utilised and unsustainable because it is costly to maintain.
I would also like a call to action on our national treasure, Taman Negara National Park, which can be further improved through better facilities and conservation efforts.