Gaya Travel Magazine had the chance to catch up with Puan Noorul Ashikin recently to ask her about the Visit Selangor Year 2015 and the areas that the state is focussing on in terms of tourism.
Visit Selangor Year 2015
During the interview, Puan Noorul Ashikin explained that Selangor intends to carry over the momentum from Visit Malaysia Year 2014. Due to the major incidents that unfortunately hit Malaysia in 2014, there was a marked decrease in terms of tourist arrivals into the country. However, Puan Noorul Ashikin found that in the first quarter of 2015, the number of tourists to Malaysia had been rising steadily, signalling their return to the Malaysian shores. She also commends the current Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Tun Abdul Aziz, for being highly cooperative towards Selangor government’s efforts to boost tourism arrivals to the state.
Selangor’s marketing efforts
Puan Noorul Ashikin revealed that Selangor receives 75% domestic and 25% foreign tourists. In boosting the number of international tourists, Selangor intends to further tap on the Middle Eastern market because today, tourists from this region travel all year round and not only confined to the region’s summer months. Selangor appears attractive to this market because of the presence of world class tourism infrastructure and the varied attractions that are available in the state, including massive shopping and dining opportunities. Other markets that Selangor is strongly focussing on are Korean, Indonesian and Singaporean.
During the upcoming Arab Travel Mart (ATM) 2015 to be held in Dubai, Selangor will be launching the Selangor Islamic Festival to be held on 30 and 31 May 2015. It will then be followed by Selangor Ramadan Festival in Shah Alam, which will run for one month and a half, also beginning from 30 May 2015 and run throughout the entire Muslim fasting month. Such undertaking requires involvement from various parties and stakeholders in the private and public sectors to make it work. The event is also held in conjunction with Shah Alam to be declared as an Islamic city during the ATM. A special session during the Malaysia Press Conference at the ATM is being planned to disseminate information concerning the Selangor Islamic Festival and Selangor Ramadan Fair to the Middle Eastern travel and tour operators, including the international media.
Besides ATM, Selangor also conducts overseas promotions by joining other international travel fairs. Selangor is also tentatively will be participating at the Milano Expo 2015 from 22 until 24 August 2015 at the Malaysian pavilion. If that goes through, this would be the first time that Selangor will take part in such a prestigious expo. Selangor’s new Menteri Besar, Tuan Mohammed Azmin Ali, shows strong support towards Selangor’s participation in Milano Expo 2015.
Selangor’s focus areas
In line with Visit Selangor Year, the state targets to achieve 7 million tourist arrivals for 2015 by focussing on three tourism segments: eco-tourism, sports tourism and heritage.
For heritage, Selangor will be relaunching the free tour heritage walk in the royal town of Klang, which have been planned since late last year. The walk, conducted in collaboration with the Tour Guide Association, is currently provided to tourists free of charge. There are two walk sessions held per week (one on Saturday and another on Sunday) and each session is limited up to the maximum of 15 persons. Response towards the walk has been encouraging – as a matter of fact, Selangor have also been receiving requests for additional guided walk sessions to be held for specific groups. The state government’s tourism division also collaborates with the state’s cultural division to promote cultural heritage in Selangor.
For sports tourism, Selangor hosted the Malaysian Women Marathon, which was held just after the launch of Visit Selangor Year. Other renowned sports events held in Selangor are the Selangor Masters golf tournament at the Seri Selangor Golf Club, Jugra International Paragliding Accuracy Championship, Formula 1 PETRONAS Grand Prix in Sepang and Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta at the Royal Selangor Yacht Club.
During the recent Formula 1 Grand Prix, the state government of Selangor erected a pavilion at Bukit Bintang for the F1 Grand Prix demonstrations held prior to the race proper as the means to promote Selangor to the public. Showcasing Selangor during the F1 Grand Prix demonstration at Bukit Bintang proved worthwhile since many visitors who attended the event were foreigners, thus Selangor was able to directly capture the international market at lesser cost compared to promoting the state overseas.
Selangor intends to incorporate as many sports events in the state into its tourism calendar as possible to attract sports fans from all over the world to come to the state to participate or witness spectacles like triathlons, cycling and marathons – these sports fans will also eventually become tourists and explore the destination during their visit. Selangor also continues to promote golfing in the state to the Korean market.
In terms of eco-tourism, the state recognises that this segment largely appeals to the European market. There are also eco-tourism events being held in Selangor such as the Wings of Kuala Kubu 2015, which is now in its fifth year. Since the festival is now well established, it was promoted during the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water Reserve in the United Kingdom last August 2014. Another eco-tourism attraction worth highlighting in Selangor is Sungai Kancing waterfalls, which is already popular among the Middle East tourists.
Selangor has more to offer
Though the three said segments are the focus for Visit Selangor Year 2015, Puan Noorul Ashikin stressed that other segments are not at all being neglected. One segment that the state still continues to promote is medical tourism. Selangor is currently in discussion with Firefly to bring in more Indonesian medical tourists to Selangor via Subang airport.
Besides medical tourism, another main staple for Selangor’s tourism industry are the homestays, which consistently have been increasingly popular over the years. Besides marketing to foreign travellers, Selangor has also begun promoting the state’s homestays to corporations for them to organise team-building activities, family day for their employees and management retreat. Homestays in Selangor have established themselves as destinations in their own right.
Puan Noorul Ashikin further added that the Orang Asli (aboriginal) community called Mah Meri is another unique product in Selangor that proves popular, especially among passengers who take cruises that call on Port Klang. To attract more tourists besides those passengers, Selangor also has developed packaged options to experience Mah Meri culture for travellers who are based in Kuala Lumpur – who will need to come to Shah Alam prior to being transferred to Pulau Carey where the Mah Meri are based) or education tourism for those who intend to learn Mah Meri culture in greater detail.
Another festival that Selangor works closely with Tourism Malaysia in terms of promotion is the traditional festival that features Nasi Ambeng (a fragrant rice dish consists of white rice prepared with chicken curry or chicken cooked in soy sauce, vegetables, fried noodles, some salted fish, fried coconut flesh, among others) that is being held at many places, particularly homestays with large population of Javanese descent like Banghuris. Travellers should also not miss Bon Odori Festival in September and Aboriginal Festival in October.
Besides the existing and established attractions, Selangor also boasts new products that await travellers such as the recently opened IOI Resort City Mall that is close to Putrajaya; the smart hotel Four Points by Sheraton in Puchong and the value-for-money i-City Hotel in Shah Alam; including affordable hotels around Sekinchan, which is located along the stretch between Kuala Selangor and Sabak Bernam.
To attract tourists to visit all districts in Selangor, the state government also ensures that events are also held in each district. Puan Noorul Ashikin shared that The Executive Councillor for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and the Environment, YB Puan Elizabeth Wong, intends to launch Visit Selangor Year 2015 at district level to ensure that the benefits of tourism is cascaded down to Selangor’s grass roots level. Puan Noorul Ashikin is pleased that all districts give full cooperation to the state towards making Visit Selangor Year a success.
Selangor continues to remain popular
Puan Noorul confessed that during the recent Malaysian Tour and Travel Association (MATTA) Fair held last 13 until 15 March 2015, the operators selling Selangor tour packages were pleased with the sales collected during the three-day event. Selangor managed to further capitalise on its involvement in MATTA Fair by promoting its tourism website and enticing the public to spend prior to the implementation of the Goods and Sales Tax (GST) on 1 April 2015.
Towards 2016, Puan Noorul remains positive that the state will be able to achieve the target of 7 million for 2015. Beginning February 2015, Selangor’s tourism industry has been seeing positive results in terms of tourist arrivals. She hopes that the momentum continues until year end.
To find out more about Selangor, Puan Noorul encourages the public, especially travellers who are interested to know more about Selangor, to visit www.tourismselangor.my and follow Tourism Selangor through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Selangor will also be launching mobile app soon, most probably during the Arab Travel Mart 2015 in Dubai.