WELCOME SPEECH BY THE HON. MR. LIM GUAN ENG CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG IN CONJUNTION WITH THE 4TH WORLD TOURISM CONFERENCE 2016
Excellencies; and Ladies and Gentlemen.
Penang welcomes all speakers and delegates to the prestigious 4th World Tourism Conference 2016 in the typical Malaysian greeting, “Selamat Datang ke Pulau Pinang!”.
We are honoured to be hosting this prestigious conference and would like to extend our utmost appreciation to Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture as well as the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for choosing the UNESCO World Heritage City of George Town.
Penang is an industrialised state with 49% contribution to GDP from services sector(mainly tourism and shared services outsourcing) and 45% from manufacturing(mainly electronics, medical devices and LEDs). As one of the prime tourist destinations in Malaysia, Penang is well-served with good connectivity, transportation links and world-class hotels and lodgings that offers up to 20,000 rooms.
Hotel occupancy has gone up and our Penang International Airport is the second fastest growing airport in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur. The services and tourism sector is growing in importance and we have developed world-class facilities such as restoration of heritage houses, theme parks, green parks, shopping malls and South-East Asia’s first underground convention center, Subterranean Penang International Convention & Exhibition(SPICE) Centre. We also have the oldest British school in South-East Asia, first built in 1816, celebrating its bicentennial this year.
Penang is known not only for our internationally renowned heritage enclave of George Town, but also for celebration of diversity and harmony with the famous George Town Festival, a month-long performances for art and culture. Further there are beautiful natural attractions, only a 15 minutes drive from the hills or the beaches, with world-class tourist sites such as Penang Hill, Gurney Drive tourist belts, the beach areas of Batu Ferringghi, complete with theme parks and an outstanding butterfly park in Entopia, art galleries and niche museums as well as our science tech buildings and digital libraries that teaches and amuse.
Of course, who can forget the wonderfully glorious food – widely acknowledged as the best street food in the world. For those who love durians, Penang also has the best durian in the world. And all this is available at very attractive prices with full value for money.
But best of all is the people of Penang, who welcomes visitors with warmth and generosity. After all Penang has been a cosmopolitan and international city for over 200 years, beginning when the British first took over in 1786.
Small wonder we have received international accolades all over from New York times, Lonely Planet and CNN, having the best food, best place to retire, best for discerning and budget travellers. Even Yahoo Travel listed us of the 8 top islands in the world you must explore before you die. Indeed since you all have been here, we can all die happy.
That is why this World Tourism Conference is important so that we can continue to share insights, ideas and best practices among some of the best minds in the industry. Penang is privileged to host such a renowned event and honoured to be given to showcase our most famous attraction – our diversity and ability of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban and Kadazan communities to live together peacefully.
Indeed we would like to explore how we can make the acceptance of diversity as a tourist magnet where tolerance, harmony and mutual respect for our differences is celebrated. My sincere hope that all of you will have the opportunity to experience the wonderful and diversified Malaysian culture and bring home wonderful memories of a clean, green, safe and healthy Penang to cherish. Finally my gratitude to the Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz for making this conference possible. Thank you.