IT IS Visit Penang Year 2015! However, more often than not, only attractions on Penang island come to mind when the state is mentioned as a tourist destination.
While it is true that tourist spots on the 293sq km island are more well known — including the George Town heritage enclave, beautiful beaches in Batu Ferringhi and serene Penang Hill — there are ample attractions on mainland Penang which covers 753sq km.
Sadly, even Penangites living on the island hardly visit the mainland which offers good attractions such as firefly boat tours in Nibong Tebal, a bird park in Seberang Jaya, Capal Jago leather sandals manufacturer in Kepala Batas and the 127-year-old St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam.
Nature lovers can visit several forest reserves like the one in Cherok To’kun and go bird-watching in Byram.
It has been reported that the coastline between Teluk Air Tawar and Kuala Muda in Kedah at Seberang Prai’s northern border is Malaysia’s second most important site for migratory waterbirds.
The site — spread across 7,200ha of tidal mud flats, estuaries and mangroves — was identified as an ‘important bird area’ by BirdLife International.
For a touch of history, visit the Merdeka Bridge which links Penang and Kedah.
It was built in 1940 but destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1942 and then reconstructed in 1957.
To explore life in a fishing village and enjoy excellent seafood, head on to Pulau Aman which is just a 15-minute boat ride from Batu Kawan (with a return fare of RM6).
There are homestays, chalets, budget hotels and dormitories to choose from.
Tambun, also known for seafood, has been drawing crowds over the years while Highway Auto City in Juru houses the showrooms of 30 car brands and numerous entertainment, shopping and food outlets.
The media should give equal coverage of Penang island and mainland.
There is no need to further glorify well-known tourist spots on the island when newer attractions on the mainland are struggling for attention.
Last year, the Seberang Prai Municipal Council released the Seberang Prai Heritage Map and the second edition of the Seberang Prai Tourist Map to boost tourism on the mainland.
Both maps, showcasing interesting places to visit and eat, are available free of charge from the council’s headquarters in Bandar Perda, tourist information centres, hotels and the Penang International Airport.
Seberang Prai has great potential for tourism but everyone must play their role to promote it.
The local authority must develop amenities, put up sufficient directional signboards and maintain parks and public places.
Residents can help by ensuring that these tourist spots are kept clean.
We have to make it worthwhile for tourists to visit Penang anytime.
- The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org