YONG PENG: Lured by more attractive job opportunities in Johor Baru, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Yong Peng is at risk of losing its youths.
To tackle the problem, an action plan known as “Plan 123” was drawn up to turn Yong Peng into a tourism destination and rejuvenate its economy in order to retain its young people.
Ayer Hitam MCA division chief Ling Tian Soon said 95% of the youths from Yong Peng opted to leave for bigger cities in search of better jobs.
Plan 123 was introduced last year under the leadership of MCA deputy president and Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
A year was spent to prepare Yong Peng to become a tourism destination, while 2017-2018 were declared Visit Yong Peng years.
“In 2019, we aim to begin our three-year economic transformation programme to turn Yong Peng’s so-called sunset agriculture industry such as oil palm and rubber plantation into more vibrant small and medium enterprises that can create more job opportunities.
“We hope these efforts will bring back younger people to Yong Peng by at least 30% in six years with our Plan 123,” he said.
Ling said the town, also known as “little Fuzhou” for its large Fuzhou clan population, had seen some 200,000 tourist arrivals since the launch of the Visit Yong Peng programme.
The target is to hit 300,000 tourist arrivals next year.
The town has started seeing positive changes from tourism as there are at least 20 new food and beverage outlets and businesses opening up throughout this year.
“A Singaporean investor also came to Yong Peng recently to open a modern agriculture farm which is set to start operating next year,” said Ling.
He said Yong Peng is a strategic place for the warehousing and logistics sector, with two courier companies already setting up shop there.
“However, the challenge is that Yong Peng does not have an industrial area so we have to work on improving the facilities, infrastructure and traffic first in order to thrive on the e-commerce wave,” he said.