2013 in Malaysia's Tourism

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First of all, Happy New Year 2013! It's not very late for such a greeting, isn't it? Since the globe continue to spin despite the end of Mayan's Long Count calendar, everything goes on just as usual. After two long weekends (Christmas and New Year), Monday blues hit me almost every day now. Hopefully 2013 would give me some unique and wonderful escapades. Of course, I'm talking about travel and what are there to see and explore in 2013. Since today is only the third day of January, it is best to look around my backyard, as a start. In short, let's look at what Malaysia is offering to the tourism communities this year.

Terengganu came first in announcing 2013 as Visit Terengganu Year or simply TMT2013. Inline with the announcement, a logo was created as promotional trade mark for the event. Based on the shape of a turtle (what else), the logo carries a lot of meanings, relative to the state of Terengganu.

Descriptions of the logo:

A: Turtle has become an identity of Terengganu Darul Iman.

B: Flower motif symbolizes Terengganu as a state that is popular with its batik and songket crafts.

C: Yacht symbolizes Terengganu native people, traditionally were very keen seafarers. Also it reflects Pulau Duyong and its well-known shipmaking industry and annual Monsoon Cup yacht race event.

D: The capital of Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu has been declared as the Heritage City by The Sea.

E: Special font used to reflect the characteristics of Terengganu.

F: The sun as a symbol of beauty of the state highlighting its beautiful islands and beaches.

G: Engraved decorative pattern tells us about rich craftmanship of wood and copper-carving in Terengganu.

Can't wait to go to Terengganu, can you? But maybe now (early of the year) is not the most suitable time to visit Terengganu just yet. With monsoon season across West Malaysia and floods at several areas in the East Coast of Malaysia Peninsula which may offer you a different kind of experience (often bad rather than pleasant ones), maybe Terengganu is best left alone, at least until April. Come May, when the dry season arrives, islands with white sandy beaches are just one of the treasures of Terengganu which is a worthy getaway, waiting for visitors to explore.

One thing that surprised me is the absence of an official website for Terengganu tourism. As at the time of writing this article, what supposed to look like a formal web address, a Joomla-based portal is empty. Urghhh.

In the meantime, 2013 is not only a year for Terengganu tourism. In fact, this year is the start of the back-to-back Visit Malaysia Year 2013/14 (VMY). The last time we had VMY was in 2007. Malaysian Government targets 26.8 million foreign tourists within this VMY period and more than RM62 billion in total revenue. What a figure? In order to achieve those targets, the government has announced RM358 million to be allocated for tourism development effort. The outcome of such a huge amount of money we'll see once the VMY is officially launched this year. Maybe we'll see Malaysia tourism won't be centered around its capital Kuala Lumpur only but spread across the peninsula too. Perhaps Penang, Malacca, and Sabah are no strangers to foreign visitors but other tourism low-profile states like Kedah, Perlis, N.Sembilan, Sarawak, or even Perak could benefit more from the financial allocation to promote each of the states' attractions to visitors, foreign and domestic. Other than attractions and happenings throughout the year, one more thing that makes 2013 a special year to visitors is because of the general election, which will be held within the first half of the year and promises a close battle between the ruling party and the opposition coalition.

I think Tourism Malaysia has taken a good first step in its course to upgrade the local tourism to a higher level. From my observation, the official website is upgraded in its look-and-feel department. Although in beta, the website looks good apart from one typo (English version), long loading time (could be due to my slow internet connection too), and some missing information (not all interesting places are covered). I wish they could come out with information-laden tourism website like the one belonged to Korea Tourism (english.visitkorea.or.kr). I basically can find any places of interest in South Korea just by searching inside its website. Awesome.

Whatever it is and wherever you go, I wish y'all a happy and prosperous 2013. Happy traveling!

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