Include arts and culture in tourism packages, minister tells travel agents

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri delivers her speech at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Bayan Lepas  September 10, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri delivers her speech at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Bayan Lepas September 10, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 10 — It is time for local travel agents to include arts and cultural programmes in their domestic tourism packages in efforts to spur the sector, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri today.

She said the arts and cultural sector are slowly springing back to live now where more programmes will be held from now to September.

“To date, 12 arts and cultural performances are going to be held from September to December this year with the up-coming Colours of Malaysia by Orkestra Traditional Malaysia on September 23,” she said in her speech at the opening ceremony of the world hospitality, lifestyle and entertainment exhibition (WHOLE) 2020 at Spice Arena here.

She said there are arts and cultural programmes that can be promoted to domestic tourists as the public is supportive of these programmes.

She said the re-opening of Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur on July 17 has brought back the arts and cultural sector to live and provide income for those affected by the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) and conditional movement control order (CMCO).

“The first Konsert Norma Baharu received tremendous response from the public with 500 fully-seated hall,” she said.

She said this showed that that public is fully supportive of the arts and culture industry and is accepting the new normal with strict compliance of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

The ministry will also be leveraging on smart tourism such as Malaysia Museum Department utilising technology and innovation as a marketing platform for arts and cultural products.

“And now, Jabatan Muzium Malaysia intends to enhance the virtual visits for permanent exhibitions in every museum under the department by establishing smart partnerships with other organisations such as Google Street View,” she said.

Apart from that, the ministry is now embarking on a “Cuti-cuti Kuala Lumpur” programme to attract domestic tourists to have their holiday and excursions in Kuala Lumpur.

“For these, we will be looking at Penang for its success in developing a cohesive urban tourism” she said.

She commended Penang for its initiative and commitment in maintaining Penang as a tourism haven despite the pandemic.

Earlier, citing the occupancy report from Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), she said the overall occupancy rates in the country is at 38 per cent with high occupancy recorded at beach and island destinations while cities are still at low 20 per cent.

“For Penang, the average occupancy is at 37 per cent, however, while George Town and main areas experienced lower occupancy rate, Batu Ferringhi fared really well at over 70 per cent especially on weekends, but lower on weekdays,” she said.

She believed the domestic tourism industry will slowly recover with strong support from everyone in the country.

As for the outlook for the trade and business events industry in Malaysia, she said the Malaysian Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) has successfully secured 20 international conferences from 2020 until 2024 with an estimated targeted number of 14,000 delegates.

“This will bring an estimated economic impact of RM173 million to the country,” she said.

She said today’s event, WHOLE 2020, will be a milestone for the future of this industry since over 100 companies have their exhibition booths here.

“There are also 80 virtual booths on the virtual exhibition platform,” she said.

The three-day event, until September 12, is expected to attract more than 3,000 trade and government visitors from all over the world.

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