First of all, please replace the Visit Malaysia 2020 logo that stands nowhere on the international stage.

To our new Minister of Tourism :concerns as within, so without

First of all, please replace the Visit Malaysia 2020 logo that stands nowhere on the international stage. Just as what we saw over “Tabung Harapan”, it only needs a word from you and our many local graphic designers will be glad to do their bit contributing to the nation a new streamlined and convincing logo design.
 
Second, tourism is a multidisciplinary industry ranging from infrastructure to border control,  immigration, customs, health, safety, food, shopping and more. Hence, it should not only be the game of inbound tourist numbers that matters to you; the importance of exploring
a world cultural by our outbound travellers are not to be ignored as well.
In order to improve the tourism industry,  you should take into consideration the achievements and setbacks of the upstream and downstream operations for example the misery of the tour bus operators and tour guides and the imbalance of low prices vs high costs of the hotel industry. Besides that, urban taxi is another concern that brought damage to the integrity and reputation of the tourism industry. While these are widely known facts, the remedy has to be fast.
 
Third, we should not have any more tourism associations with overlapping roles that could lead to power struggles and chaotic organization. There should only be one single guild that forges a strong union and carries a loud voice.
 
Fourth, the Tourism Industry Act 1992 is outdated and it is time to catch up with the times by reviews and revisions. In particular, getting a travel agency license is more difficult than opening a bank but when a travel agency closes down it is not compelled to pay compensation. To the consumers, there is no protection against such situations. On the other hand, training a tour guide is just as time-consuming as training a nurse. In this sense, the tour guide license should be changed to a life-time tenure so that qualified retired tour guides can be called upon to help the situation when more qualified tour guides are needed during peak seasons. They are surely better than taking any non-qualified ordinary person as a tour guide. As for the tour bus license, to get a new license, it is really crucial to regulate the bus licensing system and it is necessary to encourage competent in-bound tour operators to increase the number of tour buses which is beneficial to the industry.
 
Fifth, the Ministry of Tourism should also be lean. Besides the Minister, Deputy Minister, Secretary General, Director General + 3 deputy Director General,  Chairman of Tourism Promotion Board, and there are also the overseas office directors posted all over the world with their families whom are provided with 3-5 years of accommodation and living expenses plus family education expenses. These will surely drain our finances.
 
Sixth, do away with the entry visa administrative fees for visitors from China and India and plug the loop holes of the system. The visa is free but the administrave fee RM100 – RM175 is paid to an outsource company, this is outright corruption. It was said that this outsourced company has indirect connection to the former Minister of Home Affairs and former Minister of Tourism and Culture. The contract was reportedly extended for another 5 years? Dear YB, please stop it. The absolute free visa will bring an influx of tourists.
 
Seventh, since culture and tourism go hand in hand, our toilet culture should also be a main consideration. It is a fact that tourists normally head to the restrooms after getting off the plane. In our “magnificent” and huge airport building, our toilets are such a disgrace. There goes the first impression of our international gateway. Furthermore our public toilets in most tourist attractions are also in awful state.
 
Eighth, whether intentionally or unintentionally why did the airport immigration make tourists wait in line for more than an hour? Compared to the experiences of my travels around the world, I would say the efficiency of our Malaysian Immigration Officers are really infamy unmatched. In actual fact, was it due to inadequacy of the fingerprint reader and systems? Or the policy to require careful scrutiny of foreign passports? Or the zero efficiency of our officers? Or our officers were utterly exhausted? Luggage pick-up is another endless wait, was it another black-box operation? I propose that the CEO of Malaysia Airports should be replaced with a more responsible operational leader. Despite the immigration and airport departments not under your jurisdiction, I brought up these issues as they are inter-related issues which require inter-departmental communication and cooperation for mutual benefits and win-win solution. As I heard recently, a former Minister of Transport also criticised the inefficiency of KLIA. As the airport is the gateway to our country, I suggest that our YB considers learning from him. There is no harm in trying to save and rectify the tourism industry which in anyway is your KPI too.
 
The administrative tactics of the former government were frankly “successful”, the people’s displeasure was forcefully suppressed. Ninth, feedbacks from the industry stakeholders and tourists are expert-level recommendations. Now you only need to listen, analyse and adopt practical actions, do more with less. However, in the past, the minister was surrounded mainly by crooks and cronies.
As I know, ex-MP Wee Choo Keong will be glad to share the details of this issue. I think this will be good for you to prevent being given a tough time by the leftover bureaucrats. In fact, funding for your ministry does not come easy, let it not go to waste.
 
Tenth, YB you are recommended to pay a visit to the CIQ at Johor Bahru second link. Isn’t it your KPI to get more tourist figures? And do you know who is at the front line? Yes, the tour guide. Unfortunately, the tour guide has to work in such inhumane conditions – standing under the scorching sun or drenched in rain besides swallowing doses of abuse from the checkpoint officials. While thousands of tourists enter from Singapore daily, the Chinese tourists are particularly picked upon to extort some “toll”. At the same time, the tourists have to suffer from inefficient services under the hot sun. At times, I wonder if there is really any conflicts between government departments? The cabinet must discuss and resolve this kind of unnecessary problems.
 
Eleventh, just as in any business, the tourism industry condemns any black sheep of the group, though it may be inevitable. There is this local products shop that displays in Chinese (translated) “National First Class  Product Promotion Centre” with a big picture of our 93 year old “ex-PM” indicating his endorsement and the tongkat ali. Was it true that our Tun is the product ambassador? Have you heard of it? Anyway, we are well aware of such gimmick and I respect the freedom of the market. However, these local products shops are a kind of one-stop operations with locals at the business front and backed by  owners who are mostly foreigners. In earlier incidents, the black-tourguides and black-minivans in Sabah, Langkawi and Penang are also the malpractices of the one-stop operators; as the result it caused bad reputations to the country of tourism.
 
Of course, meeting the numbers is very important to the Minister’s KPI. However, as in Singapore and some European countries, their strategy is to emphasise on quality instead of quantity. Firstly, they provide their best software and hardware. Then, the Ministry of Tourism establishes the promotion board with accountability either by themselves or through professional promotion agencies. Japan’s JNTO, South Korea’s KTO, Singapore’s STB, Taiwan’s TTB, Australia’s TA, Macau’s MCTO, Hong Kong’s HKTB, Thailand’s TAT, Switzerland, etc  are among the excellent tourism promotion boards that are worth learning from.
 
YB, we put our hope in you to save the tourism industry of Malaysia!  

The Star, 23 June 2018


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