IT seems that not many activities or programmes are organised by the state government and relevant agencies as part of preparations to welcome Visit Johor Year 2020 campaign.
With about just six months to go, publicity and campaign materials to welcome domestic and foreign visitors are scarce at entry points and strategic places like tourism attractions in the state.
In fact, more publicity materials on the opening of a new department store, new property projects and Hari Raya Aidil Fitri sales can be seen around the state.
Also, stickers on illegal money lenders which have been around for so many years and which keep resurfacing despite cleaning efforts by the local councils are hard to miss.
Johor is one of the main entry points for visitors entering the country, with the Johor Causeway and Second Link Crossing in Tanjung Kupang, Gelang Patah connecting the state with Singapore and tens of thousands of people are using both land links daily.
This includes locals working in the republic as well as Singaporeans and foreign tourists from Singapore coming into the country and there is not much on the campaign for them to see.
Speaking of the land links, more efforts are needed from the Federal and state levels to ease congestion at both places.
Non-frequent users might feel restless having to spend more than an hour or more stuck in the traffic jam just to enter and exit the country using the 1.06km Johor Causeway.
Johor is also connected with nearby Indonesian islands in Riau Archipelago via the Stulang Laut ferry terminal in Johor Baru, Kukup ferry terminal in Pontian and Tanjung Belungkor ferry terminal in Kota Tinggi.
Senai International Airport is an important gateway for the southern region with flights plying Johor Baru -Kuala Lumpur, Subang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Miri, Sibu, Ipoh, Tawau, Langkawi and Alor Setar routes.
The airport’s international routes are Bangkok, Surabaya, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Guangzhou, Incheon in South Korea and Haikou in China.Next year is also Visit Malaysia Year and the year 2020 is important to Johor as the state will also be hosting the 20th Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) that year.
People might wonder why the logos of the Visit Johor Year 2020 and Sukma Johor are yet to be launched until now although it was reported they would be launched end of March or early April.
We are not really sure whether the secretariats to handle the two major events have been set up by the state government.
The secretariats are important to deal with the mainstream print and electronic media as well as bloggers to create awareness and publicity campaigns for the two major events.
Media organisations in Johor have yet to receive information on related activities and programmes lined up by Tourism Johor for the whole of next year in conjunction with Visit Johor Year 2020.
The state government must be willing to invest money for the publicity stunts and promotions for Visit Johor Year 2020 as tourism is one of the country’s top earners.
In 2017, Malaysia received 25.9 million international tourists with a total expenditure of RM82.2bil in tourism receipts, while for domestic tourism 20.54 million visitors spent RM83.1bil.
For the record, in 2017 Johor was ranked third for the most visited state by foreign and domestic tourists.
By now, shopping complexes, hotels and travel agencies should have started their campaigns by offering attractive packages, room deals, Johor food promotions and sales to attract visitors.
Cleanliness is another issue that the authorities should look into not only during Visit Johor Year 2020 but beyond as we can still see rubbish dumped along the roadsides by irresponsible people.
Efforts by SWCorp in cleaning the dump sites are neverending as rubbish will be dumped again the very next day after piles of rubbish have been cleared by workers.
The taxpayers money is spent by local councils annually to upgrade infrastructure and facilities at public places.
But Malaysians still have a third world mentality and their lackadaisical attitude should be blamed for failing to upkeep and maintain these facilities.
Going forward, Johor must think out of the box and the state government should review and come up with new ideas to further develop and strengthen the tourism sector in the state.
We could learn from Sabah and Sarawak when it comes to attract international tourists as the two states are the most well known the world over for their unique culture, multi-ethnicity and natural wonders.
Johor should cooperate with tourism players from Singapore and Indonesia to jointly promote Singapore, Johor and Riau islands not only to regional tourists but also visitors from other countries.