Kuala Terengganu, the provincial capital city of the State of the same name on Peninsular Malaysia East Coast tries to lure more travellers by painting the walls and facades of its old town in bright colours.
The rather sleepy town with a total population of 400,000 inhabitants (590,000 in its metropolitan area) is far of being a favourite among travellers. From the five million travellers recorded by Terengganu in 2016, 4.24 million are domestic tourists with intra-state travellers alone generating 1.67 million visits. Most of the travellers to the State however generally head to the islands such as Pulau Warisan and do not stay in the capital.
But it could now change. The city of Kuala Terengganu is turning multi-colour as a city landscape programme is taking shape to rejuvenate part of the old town including the historical China town (Kampung Cina). Large frescos and murals start to appear on many buildings and walls, turning dull greyish facades into colourful and pleasant images to look at. The programme successfully includes the private sector and comes at practically no cost to the government.
Observers say that it was a difficult task for the state administrators to get the people and corporations to come together to help realise the city’s beautification plan.
It took nearly two years for this plan to get the support of the local population as well as of a dozen companies. Some RM 350,000 (US$75,000) have been invested by private companies as well as the Terengganu Chinese Chamber of Commerce to paint murals and caricatures on landmark buildings.
Football legends are now displayed on Kuala Terengganu main stadium while a block of 13 shophouses of Jalan Banggol have been painted in bright colours.
Another company is looking at painting batik and songket motifs on the walls of Pasar Kedai Payang as well as surrounding parking lots in the city centre. Pasar Kedai Payang is famous for tourists as a traditional handicraft centre.
Apart from making the buildings visually pleasant, the paint job was a move by the Kuala Terengganu City Council to subtly inculcate civic consciousness among local residents and to prevent vandalism of public property.
Private entrepreneurs showed then their sense of citizenship and commitment to help make the city vibrant with colours, including eye-catching 3D motifs. For Kuala Terengganu, the motivation of painting walls is to show visitors that the State and its capital are clean and offer an enjoyable life style for all. It is also a long term strategy to finally give an identity to a city which until today lacks awareness among international travellers. And finally it teaches visitors about all the icons, legends and heritage of the state.