By : Gunabalan.
More than ever these days, business men can be heard telling tales of how bad their business in Malacca is to anyone who cares to listen. The local economy is not doing well now and this is exacerbating the problems business men are facing.
Recent comments(by expat professionals working in Melaka) during the Malacca Tourism Association AGM indicate poor maintenance and lack of branding and sustainability of interest amongst current tourism attractions in Melaka to be among the leading causes of people not spending or visiting these attractions.
Another is the lack of marketing towards Local Tourists and Repeat Customers (customer loyalty programmes). A senior marketer in the group commented that it is high time companies do cross marketing approach to garner better results from the marketing stand point.
One variable to take into consideration when approaching these "PERCEPTIONS about our local tourism industry" is that where local Tourism is concerned-tours and Tourist attraction outlets do not take into account the high costs related to group expenditure that local clients have to sustain in order to visit these low standard outlets (when compared to other tourist promotion attractions elsewhere in KL, Penang & Johor)
Analysing the customer spending data indicates that all of Malaysia's top tourism destinations recorded very low consumption and shopping expenses except KL. (I believe that is because in Kuala Lumpur, the maintenance aspect of their tourism products is still very "IMPRESSIVE" to the first time visitor -enough to make them become repeat customers)!
For example, in a recent visit to AFamosa Wild life show, we paid for 4 Adults and 2 Children in excess of RM 562/- (Inc. Fried rice, chic & one drink). With all the other expenses including photographs and souvenirs the total tally for our group was close to RM 1100/-.
I can tell you truthfully, what we saw did not impress us one bit. The whole area leading into the waiting area was run down and in particular the so called "TOURIST BUS" that helped transport us to the Tigers enclosure felt it was a pathetic attempt to just get our money and be done with us as the management just wasn't bothered with leaving good impressions on their paying customers.
With an average earning power of RM 1600/- per month for most Malaysians, how many local families can also afford to be repeat consumers to these types of Tourist Attractions?
In other situations, I've often heard of the father of the family complaining of paying upwards of RM 200/- just for the entrance to let their family members of 4-6 members enjoy some of our private tourists attractions.(also seen in the Upside-down House FB comment section,which makes that bit of information public knowledge! ) With the low level of Ringgit value, how many families can afford to spend this much on just entrance fees?
Tourist Attraction Operators need to spend more time giving consideration to lowering entrance or giving discounts fees for large families and groups, if they wish to tap the local tourist and enable returning customers.
It is high time we analyse our push towards creating a platform for higher Quality of Tourism Spending in assisting the Local & International Tourists to spend more to create Melaka as a profitable and sustainable Tourism state in Malaysia!!
Tourism Spending is pointed here in my writing,since tourism is seen by most, as part of service sector that is amongst the main contributor of our Malacca economy.
Holistically, In discussing Returns on Business Investment in Melaka, one must not exclude earnings from the other sectors, most importantly the Manufacturing and Oil & Gas downstream industries.
In order to create a higher volume of middle class workers that can help sustain our local tourism industry (through repeat customer & loyalty programmes) the manufacturing base is highlighted as I feel it's a significant relation in creating newly empowered high income earners, which is mostly earned by locals (with the domination of workforce in industrial sector compared to service sector). In fact, industrial is growing and beneficial to more locals- I feel.
So holistically, we're basically discussing on how to attract high income citizens into the city centre and entrepreneurs to fill up all the empty retail shop lots, thus benefit locals with more jobs.
With the present turmoil in the world of finance, Now is the best time to plan into the future by planning to enhance the quality of living for city center citizens i.e. improving traffic infrastructure from Jalan Mata Kuching to Bandar Hilir and those heading towards Malacca Sentral.That route is horiible during any long holidays.
For goodness sake, after 15 years of being the most recognized touristic city in Malaysia, we still have uncovered drains along Jalan Mata Kuching heading into either Melaka Sentral or Melaka Raya. We are definitely not awalking friendly city!
The focus into the little, little things that makes this City better to the citizenry these days been very overlooked. For example: Why has there been no attempt to introduce cheaper public travel facility into Malacca from the neighboring cities and towns?
Trains are great at carrying these crowds into Malacca.
Specifically,targeting the amount of rich, bored youths and families in the surrounding smaller towns and cities (Gemas, Asahan,Muar, Tangkak, Batu Pahat,etc) are a basket treasure trove of opportunity for local business men to tap and market into!
We need to re-focus on the little things that will make this city into a thriving metropolis if we are to live up to the Chief Minister's call to raise the local citizenry into the 1 Million range. That will be the critical mass Malacca needs to break free from its current name of a “business only during the weekend city".
As a matter of fact, Malacca still does not have a straight forward link with KLIA in Sepang that is public friendly and cost friendly as it costs upwards of RM 100/- these days to travel to KLIA from Malacca in a cab.
On a more logistically related issue, (for the state), these are the perennial problems in Malacca:
- The very bad traffic congestion in city center during Peak Holidays and weekends
- lack of visible and available parking space within the city center.
Both are not good for tourist or investor
In the Long term, one way towards realizing solutions to these issues, my suggestion is that Malacca will need to be more industrialized on a larger scale. We possibly need to create Malacca into an International Offshore Financial Centre for CBD modernization with modern attractions for tourists like more duty-free shopping paradise, invite brand name theme parks, & further assist the healthcare city concept to help increase tourism spending and arrest the currently declining (traditional) tourism industries.
I think Petronas & Honda is doing well in Malacca. Malacca can aim to be the latest GREEN TEAMED NEW FASHION, LOGISTICS and EDUCATIONAL HUB with Pulau Melaka as Malaysia's West Offshore Islamic and Financial center or perhaps assisting shopping mall developers turn their properties here into the largest duty-free shopping mall in the world.
Economic diversification is always good for long term growth.
We have noted that recently statistics from Statistic Department Malaysia shows Malacca FDI mostly went into manufacturing industries and not tourism sectors. As a result, Poor Maintenance is seen now by those in the tourism industry amongst the older attractions- as clearly, the service and lodging sectors contribution of GDP is not listed in the top of tourist spending stats.
So, for tourism growth to be on par with manufacturing sectors growth, some issues that need looking into include:
- Attractions for high and middle class tourist (F.I.T)
- Linking the use of our international airport to a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT)-utilising the 3rd lane that is now being created along the Ayer Keroh Highway.
- and linking the upcoming High Speed Rail stop to the BRT system into city centre,
I'm very supportive towards Malacca's development, especially when I read news that the government is going to develop a cruise industry(straits riviera), On a lighter note, I've always imagined in my mind big cruise ships stopping in Malacca before moving on to Penang as well as Langkawi etc.
These are some of what this writer thinks is necessary for Malacca to improve on before tourists would care to spend more with us. In short, it is high time our planners change their Quantity over Quality outlook.
No point in bragging about number of visitors only if those numbers do not translate into sales.