It was a gloomy start to Visit Beautiful Terengganu 2017 (VBT17) as torrential rains affected many toruist areas, forcing the first visitors to stay away from the State of Terengganu, on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Swelling rivers and flooding due to continuous rain for a week affected many villages, cutting roads and turning over 15,000 people homeless.
Nearly 15,000 people had been displaced by flood waters since last Sunday following continuous rain, and they were sheltered at over 200 relief centres state-wide. The natural catstrophe is derailing the launch of the new tourist year “Visit Beautiful Terengganu 2017”, the latest marketing intiative to promote the state.
The state government is expecting that 5.6 million visitors would come this year, bringing an estimated RM5 billion (US$1.25 billion) in tourism revenue. These ambitious numbers were recently communicated by Terengganu Premier Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman, who has recently taken over the state tourism executive councillor’s portfolio to ensure that the industry is given its right focus with aggressive promotions. “Tourism is a big revenue earner after petrochemicals in the country and has the potential to spur the economy further. Tourism is a well-connected industry with sports, history, health, food, seminars and expositions. Its offers a multitude of job opportunities”, he recently declared to Malaysia main newspaper the New Straits Times.
A major asset for the state remains islands which already gained fame internationally. Many foreign visitors already know Terengganu through Perhentian islands, Redang, Lang Tengah and Kapas with their scenic views, pristine beaches and rich marine life.
“And we want to take full advantage of our natural eco-tourism resources – idyllic islands, heritage, culture, traditional cuisine and the likes – to spur the state’s economy,” said Razif, adding that previous Visit Terengganu Year programmes in 1997, 2008 and 2013 were success stories themselves. The Premier considers tourism as an important tool to lift up local’s social economic status with the ambition to make the State one of the most developed in the country around 2020.
Terengganu State government hopes to be able to gain international flights to Asia, particularly to neighbouring countries as well as China. As a start, 3,000 tour agents and tourists will be flying in directly to Kuala Terengganu from China this month.
The Premier hopes that VBT 2017 will help also to strengthen locals’ service culture and ensure cleanliness and hygiene all across the State.
The VBT 2017 will host year-round programmes is poised to prop up Terengganu with gains from activities, increased sales of goods and services, and greater revenue for the hospitality and transportation industry. Razif called on stakeholders to practice an excellent service culture and to optimise the opportunities available during the VBT 2017 period to prosper themselves and their businesses. “Ensure that premises and services are hygienic and clean to provide a positive brand and image. Do not neglect tourists but pay attention to their grouses, so that they will return,” he explained to the NST.