PUBLISHED ONLINE | ASTRO AWANI
FEATURED IN NEWS SECTION | BUDGET 2015
TOURISM : SMALLER RESORTS ARE OFTEN OVERLOOKED, SAYS OPERATOR
Ungku Mohd Azlan : The government can maximize the hospitality business by reassessing their strategies on tourism locations or regions
Hulu Langat : While it is obvious that large, commercially established hospitality business are crucial to Malaysia's economic growth, one cannot deny the potential of smaller entities in driving the country's economy.
These smaller entities include agro-tourism and edu-tourism, which are among the different spectrums of tourism that are offering new experiences to tourists.
Lembah Azwen Resort is one of the many resorts in Malaysia that uniquely incorporates both the agro and education aspects of tourism to its travelers be it business personnel, avid travelers, school or university excursion groups.
To find out how effective has the current government initiatives been for the tourism industry, Lembah Azwen Resort executive director, Ungku Mohd Azlan Ungku Mohd Afandi, 31, was contacted to find out his opinions as a resort operator.
"In championing the tourism industry, the government can do more in 'walking the talk'," said Ungku Mohd Azlan, who believes that the hospitality industry has witnessed growth over the years including creating more career opportunities.
Ungku Mohd Azlan said operators like him want to see more government initiatives in regions that might seem less developed but has the potential for such business development."The government can maximise the hospitality business by reassessing their strategies on tourism locations or regions.
"This creates opportunity to enhance the industry to engage more potential growing enterprises, such as our resort, within regions such as Hulu Langat, which has shown a tremendous growth trend in the past few years.
"This would also help raise the profile of emerging locations or regions," he added.
The government’s recognition on these 'potential regions', said Ungku Mohd Azlan, would be able to help identify and channel timely resources while providing adequate advertising.
It would also encourage the outreach of smaller resorts and increase tourism venture, he added.
In his Budget 2014 speech last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said the government would continue to encourage investments particularly in new 4- and 5-star hotels to further promote Malaysia as a preferred tourist destination.
That measure was to ensure adequate supply of international standard accommodation and increase tourist arrivals, especially from the luxury and high-spending category.
To support this, the government had proposed the application period for Pioneer Status and Investment Tax Allowance incentives be extended for another three years until Dec 31, 2016.
When questioned about the tendency of government grants which traditionally favour large commercially-established hospitality businesses, Ungku Mohd Azlan said: "What the government fails to realise is the growth potential and capacity for small growing businesses, which in actuality provides higher and more diverse tourism endeavour and investment developments."
Lembah Azwen Resort is the brainchild of Ungku Mohd Azlan and his siblings, ambitious Bumiputera entrepreneurs to build a successful resort business.
"This is the kind of growing business that needs to be channeled the appropriate assistance while many larger corporations have been riding a free engagement of government initiatives throughout the years.
"Lembah Azwen Resort has been able to rise to the occasion, thrusting head-on through obstacles that many would seem impossible to overcome," said Ungku Mohd Azlan who has embarked on the resort business since he was 19.
He said the tourism industry’s growth lies in the nurturing of innovative-thinking entrepreneurs who can develop ground-breaking commerce disciplines, as well as provide a premium tourism trade environment that constantly promotes excellence, quality and class.
Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the tourism industry is a significant contributor to Malaysia’s gross domestic product, maintaining an average growth rate of 12 percent per annum since 2004.
Through the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) on tourism, collaborative efforts between the Tourism and Culture Ministry, government agencies and the private sector, have been improved to help secure Malaysia’s position as a leading tourist destination, focusing on leisure and business tourism.
In last year's budget, the government had allocated RM1.2 billion for the tourism promotional activity.