The Penang State Government lauds the 21% increase in tourist arrivals in 2008 from 5.2mil in 2007 to 6.3mil in 2008. This was stated in a written reply to my Parlimentary question in Jun 2009. The challenge is whether we can maintain and improve on this performance in 2009.
There is a need to institutionalise the tourism sector to ensure a sustained effort to develop tourism as one of the main engine of economic growth. In 2007, the services sector contributed to 58% of Penang’s GDP. If we are to fulfil the Industrial Master Plan 3 (IMP) target of 75% of GNP for Penang in 2020, it is critical there is an organised and systematic effort combined with a high degree of public and private sector cooperation.
Amongst the measures taken by the State Government are establishing the Penang Global Tourism Sdn. Bhd. as the state’s vehicle to drive tourism, securing commitments from the Federal Government in tourism projects in Penang, working in tandem with local tourism players and improving the basic infrastructure. The expected commencement on upgrading of the Penang Hill funicular train in the next few months by the Federal Government with an expanded budget from RM40mil to RM60mil is a positive sign of how both the Federal and State Government can work together for the benefit of the people.
We also need to emphasize the basic characteristics and values that makes Penang unique. Primary focus should be on upgrading and adding new products and events which when systematically combined can give the tourist traveller an unforgettable experience to not only come back for more but even persuade their friends to come along. Products, events and experiences – these are the 3 key result areas to focus on to drive Penang tourism to greater heights. This is the challenge that the Penang tourism sector, both public and private has to overcome if we are to sustain tourism arrivals and achieve our target of 10million tourists by 2014.
In the written reply by Dato’ Ng Yen Yen, the Tourism Minister to a Parliamentary question on tourism arrival to Penang, the arrivals to Penang are as follows :