WHILE the authorities are going all out to attract tourists to Pangkor island for Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014, locals are ready to extend visitors a warm welcome.
Housewife Rugayah Mat-Ali, 48, said she looked forward to seeing more tourists on the island.
“Their presence would make the usually quiet fishing village more lively.
“Even though I am not involved in the tourism industry, I will do all I can to make tourists feel at home during their stay here,” she told The Star when met at the island’s jetty recently.
Rugayah said the VMY 2014 campaign was a good start for the locals and authorities to preserve the natural environment in Pangkor.
“I noticed that more cleaners have been employed to regularly maintain the cleanliness of popular beaches like Teluk Nipah,” she said.
Watersports service provider Mohd Johari Mohd Ali, 46, said Pangkor folk were a friendly community and would do their best to assist tourists in need.
“Though we might not speak their languages, we could still explain to them through gestures and simple English words,” he said.
“We hope tourists would be impressed with Pangkor, so that they could return to tell their friends and family the beauty of the island,” he said.
Housewife Misah Yahaya, 35, said tourists would not need to worry about travelling around the island, as transport services were abundant.
“Affordable van services are available for tourists to get from one place to another,” she said.
Meanwhile, foreign tourists The Star interviewed expressed that they were in love with not just the island but the people as well.
One of them was 22-year-old Abdul Azeez, who revisited Pangkor after his first trip to the island about a year ago.
Abdul, who hails from Baghdad, Iraq, said he was astonished by the beauty of the island and decided to bring his brother and a cousin over.
“We made Pangkor one of the stops in our trip in Malaysia before heading to Kuala Lumpur.
“Our four-day stay here was just as enjoyable as my last travelling experience here,” he said, adding that they spent hours swimming in the seas and took part in fishing activities.
The staff at the hotel where they stayed were hospitable, he said, adding that the locals they met were also helpful.
Concurring with Abdul, British tourist Margaret Smith, 35, said the locals were friendly and were always ready to provide them with useful advice.
“For instance, they would advise us which shops to go to for the best local snacks and fresh grilled fish in Pangkor,” she said.
Smith said she would recommend her friends and family to visit in the future.
Outgoing Tourism Malaysia Perak director Ahmad Kamarudin Yusoff said they would step up efforts to draw more foreign tourists to Pangkor.
“Television commercials would be screened and brochures distributed more aggressively through our 40 promotional offices in various European and Asean countries.
“We will also work closely with public relations agencies worldwide to promote events such as the Pesta Laut Pangkor Lumut,” he
Ahmad Kamarudin said they would organise more familiarisation trips for foreign journalists so that they could promote Pangkor through their respective medium.
Ibrahim Seddiqi Talib, who will be replacing Ahmad Kamarudin as the new state Tourism Malaysia director, said they were targeting over 400,000 domestic and international tourists in Pangkor for this year.
“We hope to tap into the market of beach lovers.
“Beaches and islands are the top pick of about 40% of foreign tourists, and we believe Pangkor has the potential to attract them,” he said.
The actual figure for last year, Ibrahim Seddiqi said, had yet to be released but was estimated at nearly 400,000.
Facilities on Pangkor need sprucing up say locals