IPOH, June 2 — Pangkor must have a unique selling proposition, the Perak Tourism Association has said, amid the state government’s plans to upgrade the resort island.
Perak Tourism Association president Datuk Mohammad Odzman Abdul Kadir said the island must have added value, pointing out that Pulau Langkawi has a cable car service and Penang has a stunning skywalk on the rooftop of the Komtar building.
“Pangkor should also have its own attraction. Tourists would not only want to visit the island for its duty-free status and beaches,” Mohammad Odzman told Malay Mail.
“The state government should discuss the issue with the private sector and plan night activities. More affordable restaurants should also be opened.”
He added that Pangkor island has the best beaches on the Peninsular west coast, which should remain clean even if the number of tourists increases.
“The beaches on the island are almost unpolluted. We have to maintain it. We don’t want it to turn dirty when there are a lot of tourists,” he said.
“Maybe it’s timely for the local council to set up an administrative centre on the island and appoint senior officers to look after it.
“The reason is that the image of the island is at stake. Cleanliness is the most important thing,” he added.
Odzman also said that the state government should rope in the local community, particularly school students and pensioners, to be official tourist guides.
“As far as I am concerned, there is no tourist guide or information centre on the island. We are talking about bringing in foreign tourists to the island, but how would they know the history of the island, its attraction and activities if there are no guides?
“This is where non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as heritage societies can help. They can educate the students and pensioners on the history of the island and train them to be tourist guides,” he said.
The state government recently moved to boost tourism on Pangkor by announcing plans to upgrade the island’s airport and to gazette it as duty-free by 2020 in a bid to attract more foreign tourists.
However, tourism stakeholders expressed their concerns, saying that development and efforts to promote the island were sluggish.
Odzman said Pangkor needs five-star hotels and resorts to accommodate visitors.
This, he said, can only be done via a holistic approach, where the private sector, NGOs and the local community should collaborate to develop the island.
“We don’t want visitors to just come and visit Pangkor only once. We have to make sure they visit the island again; thus, the development in the island should complement the government’s latest initiative to boost the tourism there,” he said.