Johor eyes ‘work and play’ sector of tourism pie


APCW delegates being briefed on the Johor royal family during a visit to a souvenir shop near the Sultan Abu Bakar Royal Museum during a five-hour free tour organised by the state government.

FRESH from hosting the Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2023 (APCW 2023), Johor hopes more such international events will be held in the state to boost its tourism industry and economy.

Johor tourism, environment, heritage and culture committee chairman K. Raven Kumar said the state could be promoted as an ideal place for work and play.

He said apart from being a great venue for various discussions on climate change, the five-day APCW 2023 held at the Persada Johor International Convention Centre, Johor Baru, was a platform for international delegates to experience Johor.

APCW 2023 delegates trying their hand at batik painting at the Warisan Sultan Abu Bakar Complex. — Photos: THOMAS YONG/The StarAPCW 2023 delegates trying their hand at batik painting at the Warisan Sultan Abu Bakar Complex. — Photos: THOMAS YONG/The Star

“This was a great opportunity for us to promote Johor to people from all over the world, including many who have never been here before.

“Once they have seen and explored Johor, they will return to their respective home countries and share with their families and friends about this place.

ALSO READ : APCW delegates give thumbs up to Johor Baru, want to visit again

“We hope to host similar conferences along with other international events as we see this as a good way to promote Johor and indirectly spur the local economy,” he told StarMetro.

Raven said the state government, particularly Tourism Johor, would step up efforts in promoting Johor at international events.

Raven: APCW was a platform for delegates to learn about Johor.Raven: APCW was a platform for delegates to learn about Johor.“During the APCW 2023, we provided a free tour for the delegates so that they had a chance to see and explore Johor.

“The tour took delegates to visit several spots in Johor Baru, including the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum, Warisan Sultan Abu Bakar Complex and Laman Mahkota.

“For future events, we will consider setting up booths at the event space so tour operators and Tourism Johor can promote the packages we have as well as the activities and tourism products available for them to explore,” he added.

Other events that had helped boost tourism in Johor throughout the year included the Desaru Bike Week and the Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival, said Raven.

“We are looking into major international events that can be held in 2024.

“Once the Johor Budget 2024 is announced, we will have a better idea of the state’s tourism industry budget.

“We will evaluate the success of all of the international events we have had this year and decide which should be prioritised and continued in the coming year.”

He said the state government would also be improving public facilities to make it easier for travellers, both domestic and international, to explore Johor.

Sheikh Abdullah says tours for delegates should be conducted on the first day instead of the last day.Sheikh Abdullah says tours for delegates should be conducted on the first day instead of the last day.

Muted impact

Meanwhile, Johor tourism and business groups have mixed opinions about the impact of APCW and offered suggestions on how to better reap the benefits of such international events.

Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said APCW had helped to boost the occupancy rate of hotels in Johor Baru, especially in the downtown area.

“Occupancy rates in hotels in Johor Baru improved during the APCW, especially on the first few days as it coincided with the Deepavali holidays.

Teo: The event helped to boost Johor Baru’s hotel occupancy rate.Teo: The event helped to boost Johor Baru’s hotel occupancy rate.“However, since there were only about 3,000 delegates, not many hotels were fully booked.

“Regardless, it definitely had a positive impact on local businesses and tourism industry players.

“Hotels also took this opportunity to promote Johor further by providing tours for delegates.”

Teo said, however, that most of the delegates were on a tight schedule and might not have had the time to explore Johor.

“Despite this, they will at least have a better idea of the state and may be encouraged to return here in future.

“In the past, they might have only known about Kuala Lumpur as most international events were held there since it is the country’s capital.”

He said that with the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone now in the pipeline, Johor could expect to receive more business visitors.

Johor Baru Business and Hawker Association president Roland Lim said that while some traders did receive business from APCW delegates, many didn’t.

Leong says the economic spillover from conference did not reach the expectations set by the local tourism and business community.Leong says the economic spillover from conference did not reach the expectations set by the local tourism and business community.

“Most delegates did not really have that much free time to explore Johor Baru.

“Only traders along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee seem to have received visitors from the APCW.

“Such events are good for the state but steps should also be taken to encourage delegates to explore the town.

Delegates taking a group photo on the last day of the APCW 2023.Delegates taking a group photo on the last day of the APCW 2023.

“One way to do this is for the organiser to come up with a more relaxed schedule,” said Lim.

Johor Tourist Guides Association chairman Jimmy Leong said the economic spillover from the APCW did not meet expectations of the local tourism and business community.

“Unfortunately, we did not see much spillover effect from the event this time around.

Lim says only traders on a few roads received visitors from the conference.Lim says only traders on a few roads received visitors from the conference.

“While there were walking tour packages offered, there were also complaints that they were too expensive.

“In the future, I believe we can promote better, more affordable tour packages for delegates.

“Such events are a good opportunity for us to highlight Johor.

“We need both industry players and the relevant government bodies to do better so that locals could reap the benefits.”

The Pasir Gudang Kite Festival in February attracted thousands of visitors from all around the world to Johor. — FilepicThe Pasir Gudang Kite Festival in February attracted thousands of visitors from all around the world to Johor. — Filepic

Johor City Nature Tourist Guide Association president Sheikh Abdullah Md Taufek, who took some 30 delegates for a five-hour tour around Johor Baru, said that such international events should be held more frequently.

He suggested that such tours be conducted on the first day instead of the last day of the event.

“Despite hundreds of delegates signing up, only about 10% came for the tour.

“On the first day, delegates are still fresh and more willing to take part in a tour.

“Some may even be rushing to catch their flights on the last day or are too tired to enjoy the tour after five days of intense activities,” he added.

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