Big boost for state’s tourism industry

Majestic Johor Festival is one of several events in Johor attracting local and foreign visitors. Tourism is a major contributor to the state’s economy and development. — Filepic

THE state tourism industry is expected to see a significant boost with Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi now personally taking charge of the tourism portfolio, say stakeholders.

They say Onn Hafiz, who was previously state tourism, youth and sports committee chairman before being appointed Mentri Besar, has a good track record in leading the industry.

Johor Homestay Association president Saifudin Mohd Kadak said it was a timely move, especially with the state preparing for Visit Johor Year 2026.

“Onn Hafiz was the state executive councillor in charge of the tourism industry when we were battling the Covid-19 pandemic, the most challenging time the industry has ever had.

“I am sure that with his experience, he will be able to do wonders to improve the local tourism sector, which is important for the development and economy of Johor.

“The timing is also perfect as we are just two years away from Visit Johor Year 2026,” he told StarMetro.

Johor City Nature Tourist Guide Association president Sheikh Abdullah Md Taufek said it would also be easier for Onn Hafiz to lead the industry as he had already established a good relationship with stakeholders.

“This is good news for Johor, especially for those in the tourism industry.

Onn Hafiz announced reshuffle of the state exco line up on Feb 13.Onn Hafiz announced reshuffle of the state exco line up on Feb 13.

“We have had good experience working with Onn Hafiz, and I believe this will continue.

“As the Mentri Besar, it will also be easier for him to implement initiatives or programmes that can benefit the industry.”

Sheikh Abdullah said the move would also further enhance the relationship between Johor and Singapore in terms of tourism and economy.

“The establishment of Johor Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ) and Johor Financial Zone (JFZ), coupled with Onn Hafiz taking on the tourism portfolio, will definitely help to spur the local economy,” he added.

Johor Tourist Guides Association chairman Jimmy Leong said industry players were upbeat about the news.

“He has a good track record. He can deliver and always follows through on any task he has set out to do.

“It is important for us to have a good leader taking on tourism as this is a crucial industry.

“The tourism sector is not only important for our economy but our image as well, especially in the way we manage our border with Singapore, a matter that the Mentri Besar has always paid special attention to,” he said.

Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said Onn Hafiz had also put in a lot of effort to help industry players badly affected during the pandemic.

“Onn Hafiz, who was the tourism exco member then, played an important role in coming up with initiatives to help us.

“As MB, he has also been working hard to improve traffic at our border with Singapore, an effort that has also helped our local tourism industry.

“Now that he is handling tourism portfolio again, I am sure he will bring more great ideas that will benefit the state holistically,” Teo said.

On Feb 13, Onn Hafiz announced a reshuffle in the state exco line-up, which saw former state education, information and communication committee chairman Norlizah Nor being replaced with Tanjung Surat assemblyman Aznan Tamin.

The reshuffle also saw Onn Hafiz taking on the tourism portfolio on top of his existing land revenue, administration, finance, planning and economic development portfolios.

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